Time: March 27, 2018
Several enthusiastic Saudi and other foreign women ensure their presence for learning yoga here, said renowned Saudi yoga instructor and chairperson of Arab Yoga Foundation Dr. Nouf Marwaai at a felicitation ceremony at the Indian Consulate on Monday.
Indian Consulate General felicitated her for being bestowed the prestigious Padma Shri Award by the Indian president recently, and she was felicitated by Indian Consul General Md. Noor Rahman Sheikh in the presence of prominent Indian community members and Saudi yoga instructors and students.
She was conferred Padma Shri Award, one of the top four civilian awards in India, recently by government of India for promoting ancient traditional yoga in Kingdom and also other parts of the Arab world.
She is also first ever Saudi national to receive such highest civilian award from India.
Speaking on the occasion, she said, “It was emotional moment for me when I was told about being selected for such prestigious award by Indian government.”
She recalled the assistance that she has been receiving from Indian Consulate to promote yoga in the Kingdom, and thanked them for their every effort in assisting her in the journey to promote yoga.
Hailing Princess Reema Bint Bandar Bin Sultan, vice president of Women’s Affairs of the General Authority of Sports, Nouf said that the princess’ support for plans for popularizing of yoga in Kingdom will boost it further in time ahead.
She also thanked her students for showing great enthusiasm to learn yoga in adverse weather conditions. She stressed that without their support and willingness to learn yoga, she would not have succeeded in promoting yoga, or be the recipient of this award.
The recognition for Nouf has been the fruit of her two decades of tireless efforts, as she said of the Indian honor, “It is indeed a great honor, and I am thankful for the recognition of my two decades of work in promoting yoga in the Arab world and Saudi Arabia.”
Acknowledging her efforts in promoting yoga in Kingdom, Consul General Sheikh said, “Ms. Nouf has been associated with Indian Consulate for past few years, and it has been a mutually beneficial experience.”
Sheikh said that it was dedication and hard work of Dr. Nouf that led to her to be selected for the Padma Sri Award. “We have been closely associated with her, and we know her from 2015 when we invited her for the International Yoga Day, which was organized around the world and also in the consulate premises, to participate in the celebrations.
“She is obviously an exceptional person, someone who has raised awareness of the whole concept of yoga in this part of the world. It is absolutely an honor for all of us that we were able to break the news of the award to Nouf on the evening of Jan. 25. And on hearing the news she was weeping. It was an emotive occasion for all of us.
“The award was a recognition of all her hard work and struggle in propagating yoga,” he said.
Sheikh said that the felicitation of Nouf would have been enhanced if Princess Reema had been able to make it to the event. “We invited Princess Reema to be present in the felicitation of Nouf, but the princess could not take time out of her busy schedule for this event. But the kind of support Princess Reema has provided to Yogachari and Padma Shri Nouf in popularizing yoga has been immense,” he added.
“Nouf is a well-deserved recipient of the award for it is her versatility, her courage and leadership in promoting yoga that has led her to her getting the award. It is a matter of pride for all of us, and also a matter for all of us to emulate her perseverance and strength,” he added.
Earlier one of her student, Miss Ala Al-Sharif, extolled Nouf as an excellent ‘guru’ (teacher) and said that all have benefitted from her. “She is an excellent teacher and we have to thank her for all she has given to us and future of yoga in Saudi Arabia is great.”
Speaking to Saudi Gazette after the event, Nouf said that yoga has been expanding in several parts including in holy city of Makkah, where the region has certified trainers.
Nouf was born with autoimmune disease, which she overcame through yoga and Ayurveda that she learned in India.
She is also a practitioner of Ayurvedic Indian medicine and is a clinical psychologist, a lifestyle counselor, and an Ayurveda and yoga therapist.
Nouf has imparted yoga to more than 3,000 students and also trained 500 certified yoga teachers.
She was also the founder of the Saudi Arabia Yoga School in 2008, the regional director of Yoga Alliance International in the Gulf Region in 2009, and together with Swami Vidyananda, the founder of Yoga Alliance International India; they founded the Yoga Gulf Alliance in 2009.