11 Mar 2018 – 12:39
By Amna Pervaiz Rao | The Peninsula
DOHA: The Second Aspire International Kite Festival drew to a close attracting more than 40,000 visitors who enjoyed a wide range of technical feats showcased by some of the world’s best professional kite flyers on Friday evening.
For four days, the 2nd Aspire International Kite Festival in Aspire Park proved to be a wonderful and vibrant atmosphere. Visitors were able to enjoy a hugely varied programme of community events and activities, offering something for everyone and people of all ages.
Mohammad Khalifa Al Suwaidi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF), Kholoud Al Hail, Chairperson of the Organising Committee of the 2nd Aspire International Kite Festival, Ali Al Mahmoud, Head of Community Engagement at the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, and Abdulla Khalil Al Muhannadi, Events Manager at Ooredoo Qatar, took part in the awarding ceremony held to recognise the winners and participants from this year’s event.
Mohammad Khalifa Al Suwaidi, said: “We’re very proud of this year’s huge success. This event has established the popularity of a new sport and fixture in Qatar’s annual sporting calendar. Its success provides further proof of AZF’s capabilities and expertise in hosting major international sports and cultural activities.”
He added: “I’d also like to congratulate this year’s participants and winners, and thank our sponsors Qatar Airways, Ooredoo, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, Katara, Virgin Megastores and Salam Stores, as well as our media partner, Al Kass Sports Channel. My thanks also go to the Singapore Kite Association, whose continuous efforts and support contributed to the event’s remarkable success and elevated the experience for our guest teams and visitors.”
Kholoud Al Hail, remarked: “We’re very happy with this year’s turnout and the growing levels of participation from local schools and international kite flyers. This year’s 2nd Aspire International Kite Festival was so popular that people were asking us on social media to extend it for one more day. This is something we’ll take into consideration when planning next year’s third Aspire International Kite Festival.”
Eastern and Western cultures came together to take part in this year’s festival, represented by 102 professional kite flyers from 23 countries.
International teams taking part in the event competed in four award categories: The Best Design and Innovation Award, The Biggest Kite Award, the Longest Kite Award, and the Best National Flag Award. Teams from China, France, Pakistan, and Mexico won each of these award categories respectively.
Talking to The Peninsula, Iqbal Husain, Representative from Pakistani team said: “I flew kites since I was a child, when I was in Tokyo I started to make kites again which was in the 1980s. I make kites very differently, different from other people. I use traditional materials to make kites which is, hand-made Japanese paper and bamboo sticks. I like making kites as they involve you completely and you put in all your efforts to make it perfect. My kites normally take an year and half to get completed. The aspect that makes me unique is I am the only person who puts in humour in making kites. I don’t put in abstract designs that kids don’t understand, I make it funny in every way to make it easy to understand for kids and adults as well.
Mohammad Khalifa Al Suwaidi with the French team.
“I feel honoured to be in Qatar for the first time, it’s a beautiful park which has been selected as the venue for this year. The wind is perfect for me to fly my kites as they are not that strong. We are being treated very nice by our organisers. I would love to be a part of this International kite festival every coming year”, he added.
This year marked the first time that a team from Qatar had ever taken part in a kite flying festival. The team from Qatar was comprised of locals and expatriates and featured the youngest participants in the festival. The Festival’s jury presented the team from Qatar with an Encouragement Award handed to them by Mohammad Khalifa Al Suwaidi.
The Italian Kite Federation also extended an invitation to the team from Qatar to participate in one of the largest international festivals held in Italy, due to take place this year from April 20 to May 1.
The jury was made up of a number of renowned figures associated with kite flying. These included Italian painter, sculptor and theatre scenographer Claudio Capelli; American kite artist, painter, graphic designer and aerial sculptor George Peters; lifelong German kite artist Franck Shwiemann; painter and former Canadian indoor cycling track champion Robert Trepanier; Japanese garden designer Makoto Ohye who has devoted much of his life to developing a culture of kite art in his country; and French wind fan artist famous for creating environmentally-friendly installations Michel Gressier.
Another major success for the festival was the level of involvement of young students from around the country who took part in kite flying workshops that were delivered by experts from the Singapore Kite Association.
More than 550 boys and girls from 16 schools took part.
During the workshops, the students were given the opportunity to design, decorate and build their own kites and submitted entries for an inter-school competition held as part of the festival, giving them the chance to win valuable prizes.
Oscar Academy won first prize with QR50,000, second-place winner Muaz Bin Jabal Independent School for Boys was awarded QR30,000, while third-place winner Halima Al Saadeia Independent School for Girls received a QR20,000 prize.
During the closing ceremony, AZF also awarded the acclaimed Canadian kite flying coach, Robert Trepainer, for providing training workshops for 60 local schoolteachers back in November 2017 to prepare them for this year’s event. Singaporean coach Gadis Widiyati, from the Singapore Kite Association, was also recognised for her efforts in providing training workshops for the team from Qatar last January.
The festival also highlighted AZF’s support for small businesses, with a number of local companies promoting their products and services to festival-goers.
A photography competition running on social media was launched to capture perspectives of the festival through the eyes of visitors and participants themselves.
Entrants took part by posting their photographs online using the hashtag #AspireKiteFest. A panel of judges including representatives from the Qatar Photographic Society will select the winners on March 21.
Several hundred children aged 5-13 took part in a poster competition by creating illustrations of a kite in the skies above Aspire Park. Winners will be announced on March 21.