Bahrain-based private equity firm Investcorp is set to transform a number of gyms it part owns in Saudi Arabia into female-only facilities.
The move is the latest step towards greater sporting inclusivity in the Kingdom. It follows the plan of Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who is encouraging more women to take up sport.
Princess Reema, head of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports (SFCS) and vice president for Development and Planning at the Saudi Arabian General Sports Authority, is the leading voice behind sporting reforms in Saudi Arabia.
BRINGING WOMEN TO SPORT
“I’ve encouraged women to go out on the streets and into the public parks to exercise,” she recently said at an event in London.
“I’ve been telling women they don’t need permission to exercise in public, they don’t need permission to activate their own sports programs. And more and more they are doing it.”
In 2013, Investcorp acquired a 25 percent stake in Leejam Sports, the company that runs Fitness Time gyms in Saudi Arabia.
The company’s co-CEO Rishi Kapoor revealed that around 40 of 115 gyms will be effected by the move, which aligns with Princess Reema’s vision.
“Recently the regulations were relaxed to allow women gyms. There’s tremendous demand, so we are re-purposing some of our existing gyms that used to be male-only to female-only,” Kapoor said.