Nouf Al-Marwaai, president of the Saudi Yoga Committee

Nouf Al-Marwaai, president of the Saudi Yoga Committee
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Updated 24 August 2023
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Nouf Al-Marwaai, president of the Saudi Yoga Committee

Nouf Al-Marwaai, president of the Saudi Yoga Committee
  • Yoga is a lifestyle that should be practiced regularly, Kingdom’s first certified instructor says

RIYADH: There is a growing interest in the development of yoga in Saudi Arabia, according to the president of the Kingdom’s Yoga Committee, Nouf Al-Marwaai.

Saudi Arabia’s first certified yoga instructor and the first Arab recipient of the Padma Shri award, Al-Marwaai shared her experiences with the “Mayman Show,” discussing her work introducing, promoting, and redefining yoga in the Kingdom.

She told the show: “We regulated the practices, we designed the standards, and we even signed an MoU (memorandum of understanding) with the Ayush Ministry — which is actually the Ministry of Yoga in India.”

All the hard work paid off. Last June, the Saudi national yoga team won five medals in their first international competition at the second Mt. Everest International Yoga Championship in Nepal. The team participated in the yogasana contest, which focuses specifically on the precise execution of the various yoga positions. Samaher Al-Malki claimed the gold medal, Ahmed Shilati, Sarah Al-Amoudi and Bader Al-Ghamdi won silvers, and Joud Abed took bronze.

Al-Marwaai expressed her gratitude to the technical team and trainers, including Vijay Yadav and Paula Debral, as well as to the Kingdom’s leadership for the success. “It was, I wouldn’t say a surprise for us, but yeah, it was a very emotional moment for all of us to see the success,” she said.

The celebration of International Yoga Day on June 21 was also a huge success in Saudi Arabia. The festivities aimed to introduce people to the sport and were held in nine regions across 23 locations, attracting over 10,000 participants. The activities included practice sessions, meditations, and the honoring of the Kingdom’s yoga champions.

The Saudi Yoga Committee, established May 16, 2021, is now working to bring the sport to the Kingdom’s universities. Al-Marwaai explained that it is very important, especially for young people, to view yoga as a competitive activity, which is why it is collaborating with universities interested in incorporating yoga into the curriculum.

This way, it is hoped, more potential athletes might be identified and developed to contribute to the national team. The Saudi Yoga Committee also provides all the support for other universities that are more interested in the sport for the health and well-being benefits it brings.

Al-Marwaai used her personal experiences to set out the positive impact yoga can have on people’s health. “Yoga really saved my life — I was unable to sleep or move or even sit on the floor cross legged because of my joint stiffness,” she said. “But, after practicing yoga, I wouldn’t say I 100 percent improved immediately, but it was a gradual, significant change.”

As a child, Al-Marwaai suffered from a rheumatic disease called lupus erythematosus. The condition caused panic attacks, sleeping disorders, anxiety, stiffness, and affected her studies. Her journey towards greater health began after reading her father’s book on yoga — he, too, is a former champion in the sport.

“You can buy anything, you can replace anything, but not your health, and your mental health is something you don’t see or feel until it’s really compromised,” she said.

“Mental health is very important for you. Growing up, life has challenges, so taking care of your physical health, and mental health as well, it’s going to actually decide what quality of life you’re going to have when you grow old.”

Yoga can also be used to promote international peace and development. With its growing popularity in the Kingdom, Al-Marwaai gave the example of how yoga serves as a strong cultural bridge between Saudi Arabia and India. “It’s Indian culture, and by promoting that, we’re actually promoting the friendship and the cultural exchange with India,” she said.

The Indian G20 Summit this September echoes a similar message through its theme, “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” which means “One Earth, One Family, One Future.” This expression, originating from an old Indian text, aligns with many principles found in yoga and its teachings, Al-Marwaai said.

To live up to her title as the first accredited yoga acharya, Al-Marwaai gave a brief demonstration of the pranayama breathing technique.

“Once you’re trained, once you start seeing the benefits, you will never stop practicing that,” she concluded.


Saudi, Ireland foreign ministers discuss Gaza developments in Brussels

Saudi, Ireland foreign ministers discuss Gaza developments in Brussels
Updated 58 min 50 sec ago
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Saudi, Ireland foreign ministers discuss Gaza developments in Brussels

Saudi, Ireland foreign ministers discuss Gaza developments in Brussels

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Monday met his Irish counterpart Micheal Martin in the Belgian capital, Brussels, to discuss developments in the situation in the Gaza Strip and the efforts made to solve the conflict.

During the meeting, they also discussed bilateral relations between their two countries and ways to strengthen and develop them in various fields, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of a meeting of the ministerial committee, headed by Prince Faisal, which was assigned by the Joint Arab-Islamic Extraordinary Summit with the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.

It also comes a day before Ireland, along with Spain and Norway, plan to make official their recognition of a Palestinian state.


Saudi industry minister begins official trip to Netherlands

Saudi industry minister begins official trip to Netherlands
Updated 27 May 2024
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Saudi industry minister begins official trip to Netherlands

Saudi industry minister begins official trip to Netherlands
  • Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef’s visit seeks to strengthen ties in industrial, mining sectors

RIYADH: Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef traveled to the Netherlands on Monday for an official visit with the objective of strengthening cooperation in the industrial and mining sectors, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The visit aims to explore and expand joint investment opportunities between the two countries.
Alkhorayef is scheduled to meet with several Dutch ministers and senior government officials, along with key leaders from the private sector, to discuss collaboration in the industrial and mining sectors.
The minister’s itinerary will also include several visits to Dutch factories and companies operating within these sectors with the hopes of fostering collaborative ventures between private sector entities in both countries.
The visit underscores Saudi Arabia’s commitment to diversifying its economy and strengthening international ties, SPA added.
In 2023, the Kingdom’s non-oil exports to the Netherlands were valued at about SR2.6 billion ($706 million), while its non-oil imports from the Netherlands amounted to almost SR8.5 billion.


Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union praises Saudi Arabia’s ‘tremendous effort’ to support Palestinian cause

Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union praises Saudi Arabia’s ‘tremendous effort’ to support Palestinian cause
Updated 27 May 2024
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Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union praises Saudi Arabia’s ‘tremendous effort’ to support Palestinian cause

Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union praises Saudi Arabia’s ‘tremendous effort’ to support Palestinian cause

RIYADH: The Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union has praised the “tremendous efforts of Saudi Arabia, led by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in supporting the Palestinian cause,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The AIPU released a final statement following the 36th Arab Parliamentary Union Conference, which ended on Monday in Algiers.

A Saudi delegation, headed by the chairman of the Shoura Council, Sheikh Abdullah Al Al-Sheikh, took part in the conference alongside heads of parliaments and councils, and several regional and international organizations and institutions.

During its sessions, the conference discussed developments in the Palestinian issue and the current situation in the Arab region.

The statement also praised the Kingdom’s hosting of a number of Arab, Islamic and African summits to support the Palestinian cause and put an end to the aggression against the Palestinian people.

On Yemen, the statement stressed the importance of the initiatives undertaken by the Kingdom, which call for constructive dialogue to achieve sustainable peace and a comprehensive political solution.

The conference endorsed the recommendations of the political committee, “which highly praised the pivotal and leading role played by Saudi Arabia, which has never hesitated in its significant achievements, contributions, initiatives, and authentic Arab stances aimed at unifying Arab ranks and elevating the status of the Arab and Islamic nations in all international forums,” SPA said.

The conference also praised the Kingdom’s hosting of Sudanese talks in Jeddah between the two conflicting parties to consolidate a truce and reach a final ceasefire agreement to end the crisis in a way that preserves Sudan’s sovereignty and unity and enables it to restore its security and stability.


Saudi economy minister holds talks with UN, OPEC officials in Austria

Saudi economy minister holds talks with UN, OPEC officials in Austria
Updated 27 May 2024
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Saudi economy minister holds talks with UN, OPEC officials in Austria

Saudi economy minister holds talks with UN, OPEC officials in Austria

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Al-Ibrahim on Monday met Executive Director of the UN Office in Vienna Ghada Waly in the Austrian capital, Vienna.

During the meeting, the two discussed “collaboration between the Kingdom and the UN on the Sustainable Development Goals and other topics of common interest,” the ministry said in a statement.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of the minister’s visit to Austria to participate in the ninth session of the Saudi-Austrian Joint Committee.

Al-Ibrahim also met Abdulhamid Alkhalifa, president of the OPEC Fund for International Development, to explore the fund’s upcoming initiatives.

He also held talks with Austrian Minister of Labor and Economy Martin Kocher on strengthening trade and economic cooperation between the two countries, and the latest developments of joint interest.

The meetings were attended by the Kingdom’s Ambassador to Austria Abdullah Tawlah.


Kuwait emir receives Saudi minister of state

Kuwait emir receives Saudi minister of state
Updated 27 May 2024
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Kuwait emir receives Saudi minister of state

Kuwait emir receives Saudi minister of state

Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah received Saudi Minister of State Prince Turki bin Mohammed bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz and his accompanying delegation on Monday at Bayan Palace in Kuwait.

Prince Turki conveyed the greetings of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

They reviewed the strong fraternal relations between their countries and ways to strengthen them across various fields.

The meeting was also attended by Saudi Ambassador to Kuwait Prince Sultan bin Saad bin Khalid and dignitaries from both sides.