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Saudi Arabia Girls PE Classes Allowed for First Time

Image: Saudi Arabia Girls PE Classes Allowed for First Time

In this May 12, 2014, file photo, Saudi and expatriate girls practice basketball at a private sports club in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)

By    |   Friday, 28 Jul 2017 01:23 PM

Saudi Arabia will allow girls to take physical education classes for the first time ever in the upcoming academic year, illustrating another small sign of the country slowly loosening rules for women in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

Lina Almaeena, a member of the Saudi Consultative Assembly Shura Council, called the decision to let all students participate in physical education classes "a historic decree for all schools, public and private," USA Today reported.

The Saudi government allowed girls to play sports in private schools for the first time four years ago, the newspaper said. Almaeena had been pushing for women sports in the kingdom for more than a decade and started the Saudi's first female sports club, the basketball team Jeddah United, USA Today pointed out.

Saudi education minister Ahmed Al-Issa issued the girls physical education decree earlier this month, according to the website Arab News. The order stated that schools with the means to provide gyms must also provide sufficient and qualified instructors to teach the classes.

Nouf Hamadallah, a certified health and fitness trainer in Jeddah who has two daughters, told the Arab News that he welcomed the news.

"Keeping young girls active not only helps with their physical shape but also enables them to think more toward a healthier lifestyle," Hamadallah said to the Arab News. "My two daughters love to dance and stay active; I'm fortunate that my girls' school has a physical education class but it's a shame others don't.

"With this decree, more young girls will have the chance now to grow to love something that is new but will help them keep healthy and stay strong as they grow. Not only do my girls learn from me, they have the opportunity to learn from their school as well; now all Saudi girls can have that same chance."

Reuters reported that the kingdom sent two female athletes to the Olympics for the first time in 2012, and four to the 2016 games.

Saudi Arabia, though, still adheres to strict interpretations of Islamic law and tribal custom, requiring women to have male guardians and to obey a modest dress code, Reuters reported. Women are still barred from driving in the country, noted the news service.

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Saudi Arabia will allow girls to take physical education classes for the first time ever in the upcoming academic year, illustrating another small sign of the country slowly loosening rules for women in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
saudi arabia, girls, pe, classes
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2017-23-28
Friday, 28 Jul 2017 01:23 PM
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