A Saudi newspaper says the first women's sports center in the kingdom has opened.

Al Watan daily said Monday that the General Presidency for Youth Welfare had granted the center a license allowing women to practice sports including karate. It also runs weight loss programs and special activities for children.

The kingdom last month allowed girls in private schools to play sports for the first time, the latest in a series of incremental changes aimed at slowly increasing women's rights in the ultraconservative kingdom.

Center owner Hanaa al-Zuhair told the newspaper she hoped to recruit trainers through local and foreign agencies.

The newspaper did not report the name of the center, located in the eastern town of Khobar.