Nouf Bint Mohammad Al Marwaai, Saudi Arabia national and an expert on Yoga, was presented Padma Shri by President Ramnath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday. She was personally congratulated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after she received the award.
Born in Mecca, the Saudi entrepreneur pioneered the practice of Yoga and Ayurveda in Saudi Arabia and other West Asian countries. Her efforts have helped Saudi Arabia recognizing Yoga as a sports activity and no more a “deviant behavior”.
Nouf, the founder of Arab Yoga Foundation, has been instrumental in organizing several Yoga programmes in West Asia, including the International Yoga Day celebrations in Saudi Arabia. Besides Yoga, the Foundation gives educational and training courses to students who are interested in learning more about the ancient Indian science of Yoga and Indian philosophy. In an interview to Organiser weekly, she said: “More than 300 certified Yoga teachers have graduated by AYF in KSA only. AYF students are actively teaching in countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, UAE, USA, Ireland and more. In KSA we have active teachers in all major cities. About acceptance, yes, Yoga is widely accepted by people in West Asia and its spreading very fast. I have even Syrians and Palestinian students who are outside their countries.”