The kingdom will soon start issuing licences for teachers, according to reports.
It’s been a year jam-packed with reforms in Saudi Arabia—and there’s now another one to add to the list.
The kingdom will officially acknowledge yoga as a sports activity, Al Arabiya reports, with licences soon to be permitted for those who want to teach the discipline.
The news was announced by Nouf Marwaai, a yoga instructor based in Jeddah who has long campaigned for the move.
Saudi’s Ministry of Commerce and Investment approved the teaching of yoga as a sports activity, she told the Saudi Gazette, which means teachers can now apply for a licence in the kingdom.
“I am happy to see sports evolving in the country,” Marwaai told the newspaper. “Yoga is a wellness sport and the approval is going to legalise yoga practice in the country which is good for better services and practice.”
The reform follows news that Saudi will start offering physical education classes at girls’ public schools next year.
Classes will be introduced “gradually” and “in accordance with (Islamic) Shariah regulations”, AP reports, adding that it’s not yet known if they will form part of the curriculum.
The move comes after years of calls from activists to give women greater access to exercise, in a country where almost 50 per cent of women were found to be physically inactive in a government study.
The Ministry of Education revealed in a statement that the introduction of PE classes comes as part of Vision 2030, the kingdom’s post-oil economy plans to make Saudi a more modern, tourist-friendly destination.
The kingdom also recently announced women will soon be able to attend sports events in stadiums in three cities, with the changes set to come into place next year.
Authorities also started granting licences for women’s gyms earlier this year, if the venues focus on fitness and weight-loss activities, such as running, swimming and weightlifting.