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Saudi fitness centre shut over ‘indecent’ video

Video appeared to show woman in figure-hugging workout attire

Gulf News

Riyadh: Saudi sports authorities shut down a female fitness centre in Riyadh on Friday over a contentious promotional video that appeared to show a woman in figure-hugging workout attire.

“We are not going to tolerate this,” Saudi sports authority chief Turki Al Shaikh tweeted as he ordered that the centre’s licence be withdrawn.

Al Shaikh, an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, also told authorities to investigate and prosecute those behind the video.

The video, which was widely circulated on social media but could not be independently verified by AFP, showed a woman with uncovered hair in what appeared to be a gym and kicking a punching bag.

The General Sports Authority said the video contained scenes that could corrupt public morals.

Saud Al Qah’tani, a media adviser to the royal court, lauded the sports authority’s swift response, saying on Twitter that the kingdom was on the path of “moderation without moral breakdown”.

Last July, police questioned a woman after she appeared in a series of videos, initially posted on Snapchat, wearing a crop top and a high-waist miniskirt.

She had been filmed walking through the historic fort of Ushaiqer, north of Riyadh, and playing with sand in the dunes. She was later released without charge.

Saudi Arabia, in the midst of a far-reaching liberalisation drive, will allow women to drive from June and recently permitted them to enter sports stadiums for the first time.

The government is also seeking to jump-start women’s sports and is moving towards compulsory physical education classes for girls, after a ban was lifted in 2014.

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