Saudi Arabia’s first yoga festival offers mindfulness and meditation

The event was organized by the Saudi Yoga Committee, with the participation of people aged between 10 and 60 delving into a variety of activities, yoga styles, and the art of mindfulness. (Supplied)
The event was organized by the Saudi Yoga Committee, with the participation of people aged between 10 and 60 delving into a variety of activities, yoga styles, and the art of mindfulness. (Supplied)
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Updated 31 January 2022

Saudi Arabia’s first yoga festival offers mindfulness and meditation

The event was organized by the Saudi Yoga Committee, with the participation of people aged between 10 and 60 delving into a variety of activities, yoga styles, and the art of mindfulness. (Supplied)
  • Participants enjoy practicing yoga, watching performances and demonstrations by Saudi, international yoga masters

JEDDAH: More than 1,000 people from across Saudi Arabia flocked to Juman Park in King Abdullah Economic City on Saturday to take part in the country's first yoga festival.

The event was organized by the Saudi Yoga Committee, with the participation of people aged between 10 and 60 delving into a variety of activities, yoga styles, and the art of mindfulness.

It began with yoga classes on the lawn. Murali Krishnan led the adults, while Sara Alamoudi led the children.

Festival participants had the chance to practice yoga, watch different performances, and enjoy demonstrations by yoga studios and learn about the services they provided.

There were more than eight hours of classes on offer during the one-day event from Saudi and international yoga masters, and lectures.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Nouf Al-Maroui said yoga had become an increasingly widespread therapy deployed to maintain wellness and alleviate a range of health problems and ailments.

• It began with yoga classes on the lawn. Murali Krishnan led the adults, while Sara Alamoudi led the children.

The day was filled with positive energy and acceptance, with many people choosing to sit and relax in the shade where mats, pillows, and rugs were available.

The president of the Saudi Yoga Committee, Nouf bint Muhammad Al-Maroui, said she was overwhelmed by the number of visitors and the energetic, positive response.

She said yoga had become an increasingly widespread therapy deployed to maintain wellness and alleviate a range of health problems and ailments.

In her address to visitors, she said that Saudi Arabia was witnessing a remarkable development in all sectors and also in the quality of life due to great support from the government.

“The festival was a great success and I am happy that not only Saudis welcomed but also embraced our thoughts on yoga, which was the sole purpose of the event,” she told Arab News. “We want to promote yoga to families and encourage it in the country. We want Saudis to start their day with yoga, which does not take more than 20 minutes a day, which anyone can easily spare.”

People’s reactions to the event were also positive.

“What a great festival!” 38-year-old Sara Al-Madani commented. “So well laid out and organized, with excellent instructors! (I) praise everyone, including all who attended this great day. I look forward to next year!”

Pediatrician Uday Qurashi, who began his yoga journey purely for fitness purposes during lockdown, expressed his delight with the festival. “I am so happy to see this happening here in Saudi Arabia. It is so nice to hear that yoga has been established in the Kingdom.”

Jana Masoudi described the festival as “an excellent opportunity to explore ourselves” through venues that offered healthy, alternative, and mindful “not to mention fun” events. “Thank you for this. So much gratitude!”

Certified yoga instructor and owner of Zen Zone studio Samah Dyab said: “I am super excited to participate in this festival, which is being held for the first time in our country. Nowadays, the attraction of yoga is booming and, as a trainer, I see many people practicing yoga. I am so happy with the awareness that’s happening now among Saudis.”

Nada Shaalan, 27, raved about the setting, instructors, and facilities. “All was ideal for a treat of a yoga experience. They thought of everything. It was easy, wonderful, and diverse. It was a very relaxing day for me and my friends,” she said.

With Saudi Arabia’s Olympic Committee and the Ministry of Sport recognizing yoga as a sports activity for health benefits, the discipline is fast gaining popularity in the country.

Aside from its physical benefits, one of the best motivations for taking up yoga is that it helps a person to control stress, which is known to have harmful effects on the body and mind.

 


Summits in Riyadh reflect Kingdom’s desire to enhance relations with China: Saudi foreign minister

Summits in Riyadh reflect Kingdom’s desire to enhance relations with China: Saudi foreign minister
Updated 8 sec ago

Summits in Riyadh reflect Kingdom’s desire to enhance relations with China: Saudi foreign minister

Summits in Riyadh reflect Kingdom’s desire to enhance relations with China: Saudi foreign minister
  • Speaking as Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Riyadh for an official visit, Prince Faisal bin Farhan said bilateral relations are characterized by friendship, trust, cooperation and coordination
  • Xi is expected to attend a Saudi-Chinese summit, the Gulf-China Summit for Cooperation and Development, and the Riyadh Arab-China Summit for Cooperation and Development

RIYADH: Three summits due to take place in Riyadh in the coming days reflect the shared determination of the Kingdom, the other Gulf Cooperation Council nations and the wider Arab world to strengthen cooperation and enhance strategic relations with China in pursuit of greater growth and prosperity for all of the countries and their peoples, according to Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan.

“The relations between the Kingdom and China are strategic and close in light of the international developments and changes taking place,” he said.

He added that the bilateral relationship is characterized by friendship, mutual trust, cooperation and continuous coordination, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

His comments came as Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Riyadh on Wednesday evening for a three-day official visit, during which he is expected to attend a Saudi-Chinese summit, the Gulf-China Summit for Cooperation and Development, and the Riyadh Arab-China Summit for Cooperation and Development.

Prince Faisal praised the contribution made by a high-level Saudi-Chinese joint committee to the development of relations between the two countries in many fields. He said the bilateral economic relationship is progressing rapidly against the backdrop of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 development and diversification plan and China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which offer promising opportunities for cooperation, sustainable development and mutual benefits.

He added that China has ranked as the Kingdom’s top trading partner since 2018, and that the value of bilateral trade in 2021 was SR309 billion ($82.1 billion), an increase of 39 percent compared with the previous year.


Culture can open the door to a ‘green’ future, says Saudi minister

Culture can open the door to a ‘green’ future, says Saudi minister
Updated 19 min 39 sec ago

Culture can open the door to a ‘green’ future, says Saudi minister

Culture can open the door to a ‘green’ future, says Saudi minister
  • Prince Badr met with a number of his counterparts on the sidelines of the forum
  • A number of agreements were signed during bilateral meetings to enhance cultural cooperation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture, in cooperation with the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization, on Wednesday organized the 23rd Conference of Arab Culture Ministers in the capital, Riyadh, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The event, which was held under the patronage of Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, minister of culture, and chairman of the National Committee for Education, Culture and Science, was attended by ministers and officials from 20 Arab countries, as well as representatives of the Arab League, and regional and international organizations.

The minister of culture, who is also president of the 23rd session, said: “This year’s session, whose main theme is: ‘Culture and the green future,’ aims to make the cultural sector more sustainable, as we seek to make it the starting point of international efforts involving the cultural sector with its various branches, extending to cover all elements of its value chain.”

He added: “The utilization of culture toward the green future contributes to instilling culture in the global development debate, which receives the full attention of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, through the Kingdom’s participation in global cultural platforms, where the ‘Culture and the green future’ theme conforms to the goals of the Kingdom Vision 2030.”

He said that this, in return, highlights the Kingdom’s support of collective efforts to enhance knowledge, skills and practices related to making the cultural sector more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

During the conference, ministers focused on the role of culture in achieving sustainable development, while working to develop effective sectorial policies that bring added value to collective efforts to move toward a more creative and sustainable future.

Meanwhile, Prince Badr met with his Egyptian counterpart Nevin Al-Kilany on the sidelines of the forum, where the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation in the cultural field.

The memorandum included cultural fields, such as heritage, visual arts, performing arts, literature, books and publishing, Islamic decoration and other creative tracks.

It also included work to enhance the participation of Saudi and Egyptian intellectuals in festivals and cultural events held in the two countries, in addition to joint cooperation in training and qualifying local artistic cadres, and benefiting from experiences in the two countries in the fields of museums, urban heritage and handicraft industries.

Prince Badr praised the strong strategic relations that link the Kingdom with Egypt in all cultural fields. The two parties also discussed cooperation in the field of registering intangible heritage files with UNESCO, and cooperation in the field of exchanging expertise through cultural scholarship programs.

Prince Badr met with the Moroccan Minister of Youth, Culture and Communication Mohamed Mehdi Bensaid where another agreement was signed to enhance cultural cooperation in various fields, including literature, publishing and translation, heritage, architecture and design, museums, theater and performing arts.

The memorandum also included enhancing the participation of Saudi and Moroccan intellectuals in festivals and cultural events held in the two countries, in addition to exchanging expertise in organizations and cultural policies.

He also held similar meetings with the Director-General of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Salem Al-Malik, and the Director-General of ALECSO, Mohamed Ould Amar, where they discussed the most prominent current cooperation programs between the organizations and the Kingdom, and memoranda of understanding were signed.

He also met with his Tunisian and Djiboutian counterparts, and the president of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities.


Saudi Arabia, ALECSO sign cultural cooperation agreement 

Saudi Arabia, ALECSO sign cultural cooperation agreement 
Updated 08 December 2022

Saudi Arabia, ALECSO sign cultural cooperation agreement 

Saudi Arabia, ALECSO sign cultural cooperation agreement 

Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan met Director General of the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization Mohamed Ould Amar in Riyadh on Wednesday.

The meeting was part of the Saudi minister’s bilateral discussions on the sidelines of the 23rd session of the Conference of Arab Culture Ministers, which was held in the Saudi capital and organized by the Ministry of Culture in cooperation with ALECSO.

During the meeting, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the ministry and ALECSO to enhance cultural cooperation through a range of items, including registering natural sites and heritage elements in UNESCO lists.
 


Saudi FM attends GCC preparatory session ahead of summit

Saudi FM attends GCC preparatory session ahead of summit
Updated 07 December 2022

Saudi FM attends GCC preparatory session ahead of summit

Saudi FM attends GCC preparatory session ahead of summit

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Wednesday participated in the work of the 154th session of the preparatory ministerial council for the 43rd session of the Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which was held at the headquarters of the GCC General Secretariat in Riyadh.
The meeting was chaired by Oman’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sayyid Badr Albusaidi, who is also president of the council’s current session, with the participation of Gulf foreign ministers, and GCC Secretary-General Dr. Nayef Al-Hajraf.
During the meeting, the ministers discussed ways of enhancing the process of joint cooperation and coordination between the GCC countries, and the developments of the situation in the region.
They also discussed the latest regional and international developments, and the schedule of the work of the Chinese-Gulf Summit for Cooperation and Development that will be attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping and GCC leaders.


Swedish envoy, OIC chief in cooperation talks

Swedish envoy, OIC chief in cooperation talks
Updated 07 December 2022

Swedish envoy, OIC chief in cooperation talks

Swedish envoy, OIC chief in cooperation talks

RIYADH: Sweden’s envoy to Saudi Arabia recently met with the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for talks on ways to further strengthen cooperation links.

During their meeting in Jeddah, ambassador Petra Menander and OIC chief Hissein Brahim Taha also discussed other issues of mutual concern.

In a tweet, Menander said: “Excellent discussion with Hissein Brahim Taha, secretary-general of @OIC_OCI on topics of common interest — need to increase global levels of humanitarian support, women, and youth empowerment, and more. Looking forward to continued dialogue.”

While visiting the Red Sea port city, the Swedish envoy also met with Saudi doctors trained in Sweden and now working in the Kingdom.

In a separate tweet, she said: “In Jeddah, catching up with Saudi doctors with specialist training from top university hospitals (in Skane/SUS, Sahlgrenska), now all leaders in healthcare.

“Great discussion on primary healthcare, workplace conditions, and other topics of common interest. Great to see you all — greetings to absent friends,” she added.

The new Swedish ambassador submitted her credentials to Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in September.

On behalf of Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, deputy minister for protocol affairs, Khalid Al-Sehli, received a copy of Menander’s credentials.

In October, Menander held a meeting with Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal bin Fadel Al-Ibrahim to discuss topics of common interest and areas to develop cooperation.

The Saudi-Swedish Business Council was launched in October 2021 and inaugurated in Sweden’s capital Stockholm by Saudi Minister of Commerce Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi and Swedish Foreign Trade Minister Anna Hallberg.

Al-Qasabi said the council acted as a mainstay in stimulating and encouraging the private sectors of both countries while helping in the development of bilateral relations, exchange of expertise and knowledge, and the coordination of investment planning and related partnerships.

He added that Saudi Arabia was, “keen to enhance trade cooperation, facilitate exports to Sweden and Scandinavian countries, and exchange expertise and knowledge.”

Saudi Arabia is Sweden’s most significant economic partner in the Middle East and the No. 1 trade partner among Scandinavian countries, with the volume of trade exchange in the past five years reaching more than $6 billion.