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Saudi Women Await Permission for Women-Only Recreational Halls - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- In response to demands to establish recreational halls for women only, officials from municipalities in Riyadh have told Asharq Al Awsat that the secretariat has not yet approved the decision to hand out licenses to set up these recreational facilities. These halls would provide for ice-skating, bowling and billiards that are widely available for men in Riyadh’s districts.

Mohamed Al Sowayleh, the head of the licensing department in Al Malaz district in Riyadh stated that the Secretariat of Riyadh is yet to approve the project of recreational halls for women and that the secretariat is looking into the proposal. The head of the licensing department in the Al Olia district in Riyadh who wished to remain unnamed told Asharq Al Awsat that the licenses for female recreational centers that are provided by the secretariat are confined to the major cities or for entertainment centers with traditional games, restaurants and shops.

Saudi businesswomen have underlined the need to increase licenses for recreational projects for women. They asserted that this would encourage diversity in businesses that are set up by women that used to be confined to low scale projects such as women only workshops. The proposal also comes at a time when tourism authorities are encouraging internal tourism.

Salman Al Mosaeed who heads the licensing department in the Shamal district in Riyadh stated that the proposals made by businessmen and women used to focus on women’s workshops and beauty salons. He added that he had never received a request to establish recreational facilities for women.

For her part, Hessa Al Oun, a Saudi businesswoman, called for licensing to be given in order to establish sport facilities for women only and she criticized the prevailing fear from all sides and the exaggeration from concerned authorities against establishing women only recreational projects. Al Oun’s own project has been halted and she ruled out the possibility of establishing women only recreational facilities whilst women in schools and universities are not allowed to practice sports on campus.