“El Hudaj” is the first-of-its-kind fitness center exclusively for Bedouin women.
Located in the city of Rahat, El Hudaj operates as a social business. In addition to its state-of-the-art fitness facilities, El Hudaj also organizes programs to raise the awareness of Arab Bedouin women to the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.
El Hudaj also offers lectures and workshops geared toward various demographics of Bedouin women, including adolescent girls, pregnant women and mothers. Courses include, among others, healthy cooking, zumba, steps and ballet.
Launched in 2014, El Hudaj is a joint venture half-owned by AJEEC-NISPED and half by private entrepreneurs. Currently, El Hudaj employs 24 women, including 18 from the Bedouin community. During 2016, El Hudaj maintained 250 members, with a further 1,200 women and girls have participated in its programs since 2015. The Center is opened seven days a week except during the Ramadan period.
El Hudaj is dedicated to combatting the growing prevalence of diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure among Bedouin women. In addition, the program must respond to specific challenges such as the community’s traditional lifestyle, suspicion of new initiatives, low levels of awareness about the importance of sport and religious and cultural norms. The Center is only open to women; photographing the participants is strictly forbidden and the women’s privacy must be entirely respected. There is a women’s prayer area and the classes are scheduled around the Muslim prayer sessions.
Plans are being developed to expand the successful El Hudaj model across the country to reach women in other traditional Arab communities.
El Hudaj works with a variety of other organizations, such as the Welfare Department of the City of Rahat. Partners help to make possible special programming, such as speed-walking groups and competitive sports.