When it comes to keeping on top of their fitness, women in Saudi Arabia have been somewhat restricted.

Currently, it’s incredibly difficult to open female-only gyms in the ultra-conservative kingdom – however, that looks set to soon change.

Authorities intend to start granting licences for women’s gyms from the end of this month, Princess Reema bint Bandar told local newspaper Okaz.

The royal, who is vice president for women’s affairs at the General Authority of Sports, revealed the aim is to eventually open work-out centres in every neighbourhood across the country.

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The licenses will be approved for gyms that focus on fitness and weight-loss activities, such as running, swimming and weightlifting.

However facilities that want to offer “competitive activities”, such as team-based sports like football and tennis, won’t be granted licences.

The move is reportedly hoped to encourage Saudi women to embrace healthier lifestyles, as well as forming part of Vision 2030, the kingdom’s post-oil economy plans.

Workshops and seminars will be launched within the next two months in order to inspire women to invest in fitness facilities.

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“It is not my role to convince the society, but my role is limited to opening the doors for our girls to live a healthy lifestyle away from diseases that result from obesity and lack of movement,” Princess Reema said, according to Okaz.

What else is happening in Saudi?

While women’s rights are a controversial topic in the country, changes are most certainly afoot.

Currently, the country prohibits women from taking the wheel, interacting with men, trying clothes while shopping or competing freely in sports.

However the kingdom recently held its first-ever women’s day, a ban on women voting or taking part in elections lifted in 2015, and in 2016 the strict religious police were stripped of their power to stop, question, pursue or arrest people.

The hope is to make the region a more modern, tourist-friendly destination by 2030, and subsequently there have been several calls from prominent figures to lift the controversial driving ban.

 
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There have also been requests to lift strict labour laws, along with a landmark petition asking the government to do away with the male guardianship law.

The government also have plans to increase the percentage of women in the nation’s workforce from 23 per cent to 28 per cent by 2020.

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