Five Minutes With Entrepreneur Weam Zabar, Founder of Namaste Bahrain

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“I enjoy my work. There is nothing in the world I rather do for a living than this. Also, seeing the result of my work, connecting with people, feeling the joy this practice brings keeps me going,” says Weam Zabar. Who would have thought that the certified Yoga instructor, Reiki healer and winner of the Micro Enterprise of the Year award at the Bahrain Award for Entrepreneurship was once in a demanding corporate job? Discovering yoga after the birth of her child in 2017, the Namaste Bahrain founder decided to dedicate her energy to guiding others to the practice of yoga.

Namaste Bahrain

“I had days where I wished there was a community, and a venue that could support me in my practice and help me grow.” With business expansion plans in the works, Zabar’s teaching method is based on believing in one’s individuality: “I love working with people to help them find their own edges, away from preconceived ideas of what they are capable and not capable of.” Running yoga classes, retreats, workshops and yoga teacher trainings, Zabar looks for people in her team who are friendly, compassionate and embody their passion for what they teach. Her three words to describe a ‘trep? “Passion, devotion and enthusiasm”

What were the difficulties in promoting yoga in Bahrain?
There were some misconceptions about yoga, many people associated it with religion, which is a false conception. Yoga is a universal science that has, at its core relief from suffering as its purpose. I have found that since I started in 2011, people have become more receptive of it. People now realize that stress management is not a luxury, it is a necessity and a basic need.

What would you say is the region’s biggest challenge for entrepreneurs?
Regulations. There still seems to be too much bureaucracy in some of the processes and many gaps where regulations should be reinforced. We seem to have set some limitations on innovation in some of the governing bodies because of lack of understanding. This lack of understanding also created allowance for error in terms of managing talents.

How would you describe the availability of resources and support for entrepreneurs and startups in Bahrain?
Bahraini entrepreneurs are lucky to have places like the BDB [Bahrain Development Bank] for funding, Tamkeen for enterprise support and angel investors (such as Tenmou) to help them set up and grow their businesses. Having awards such as the one Namaste recently won is also a clear indicator that entrepreneurs are recognized and valued in Bahrain.

What are your top tips for an entrepreneur starting a business in Bahrain?
This is my biggest tip: invest in yourself. If you do not take the time out to check in with yourself, to rest your mind, to do things you truly enjoy, you will burn yourself out and you are very likely to fail. Secondly, be very clear on what you allow yourself to believe in. You can only reprogram your mind by silence, meditation and prayer. Don't allow the failure of others become a projection of your future. Your reality is created by your own belief system.

Thirdly, ask for and accept help, there are many resources within the country to help you set up a business. Keep an open mind, a positive attitude and a beginners' perspective. And finally, do it for the love. If your work in itself is not the reward, don't do it. Choose something that you are so madly in love with, something that you cannot stand to see the world without, and do it.

Photo by Bader Alwazeer

What were the biggest lessons from your endeavors?
Accept help from others when offered. This was a difficult thing for me when I started; I wanted to “own” my success. I realize now that no one can succeed on their own. We succeed by one another, for one another. Also, follow your gut. There will be situations where the logical thing to do, will not be the best thing to do. There is an inner guidance system that will navigate you with ease, follow that.

What’s one thing you make sure you do for your company to run efficiently?
Go with the flow. I am constantly keeping my eyes open to see what works and what doesn't. When I first set up Namaste I had many ideas of workshops and classes that I wanted to run here. This diluted the understanding of the Namaste brand. Once I focused on yoga, it kicked off. I am consistently examining what are working, and what is not and adapting as I go along.