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Up, up and away

22nd May

From the Gulf Weekly, May 22 - 28, 2013

Aniqa Haider


Beach Fever swept across Amwaj Islands’ shores as families flocked to the first water sports festival as part of the 2013 Manama Capital of Arab Tourism ‘Season of Sport’ celebrations.


An estimated 3,800 fans travelled to the beach, best known for being home of Bahrain’s kite-boarding community, to try their hands at stand-up paddle-surfing, kayaking and other enthralling water-based and sand activities.


Organised by Sportique88, the beach bonanza event staged at Kite Beach, near the Kazerooni Villas development, featured an array of activities including kite surfing, wake boarding, kayaking, beach football and volleyball and a kid’s zone with plenty of toddler pools and games.


Martin Whitaker, Sportique88’s managing director, said: “It’s been fabulous. I am really pleased with the turn-out and although I know this may sound corny, I think there was something for everybody.


“We had sack races, beach volleyball, soccer and even water polo. We brought in about 100 tons of sand to make the pitches and that went down really well with the community, which is good as this festival is an outreach programme. We built a beach. It was always a beach but you couldn’t really call it that as it was covered in coral and stone.


“We showcased a lot of sports and all the activities on the water were wonderful. Some people were sitting on the beach watching while others went swimming. We even had a bouncy slide in the sea that the teenagers loved playing on and the Bahrain Coast Guard were fantastic, making sure everyone was safe.


“All-in-all, it was just a really special atmosphere to be around. We are good at organising events here and it does bring people together, showcasing the facilities we have. We also had the best public toilets in town. In fact people were taking photos of them because they were so amazing!


“Everyone I spoke to had a really great, relaxed time and so many have said that this is exactly what we should be doing more of.”


The all-day festivities had some sport-lovers testing the waters and making waves while others picnicked on the shore to watch the kite-surfers as they soared high in a free-style competition. On stage, DJ Stevie George kept the crowds entertained and informed about the events coming up throughout the day.


Kittyma Pheyiam, 26, a housewife from Amwaj Islands Floating City, was playing with her four-year-old daughter, Yona, in the children’s pool, while her husband Ioan Martin, 41, a pilot with Gulf Air, was putting his kite-surfing abilities to the test.


“It was so much fun,” she said. “The beach was filled with activities for kids and families. We always come here because my husband loves kite-surfing but I think we will be here even more often now that the beach is safer and more family friendly.”


Meanwhile, Hussain Al Khalo, 42, a jeweller, from Saraya 2, said: “I came here with my wife and two children. We enjoyed the beach football with the kids. The new sand was great and perfect for diving on if you happened to be a goalie. Its’ a lovely idea and wonderful that Bahrain has a real beach now.”


Other parents making the most of the event were Talal Uddin Ahmed, 30, a businessman, from Amwaj, and his wife Sana Talal, 27, a housewife.


Mr Ahmed said: “I love the ambiance and the way it’s been organised. The facilities are great and this should be done more often. I loved trying out the free water sports. I am now interested in kayaking and kite-surfing. It’s great to have the beach so close to home.”


Mrs Talal, added: “We came to the beach early so as not to miss out on anything. I love that there were activities for the kids. I took my daughter Sidra, two, to play in the Kid’s Zone and we met up with some friends as well. This could be the new location for a our family day out.”


While the kite-surfers put on a show for the masses, footballers took to the pitch in competition. Brazilian football coach and Bahrain Beach Soccer National head coach Gustavo ‘Guga’ Zloccowicz was on-hand to provide guidance for teams of all ages with a series of games at senior and junior levels.


Julian Carr, 45, a chemical engineer, from Juffair, was watching from the sidelines. He said: “The beach festival was good. It was windy, which was great for kite-surfing. I just came to observe and see what was happening but I wish I had brought my bathing costume as it looked like a lot of fun!”


For those who forget their swimming trunks and suits, fortunately there was a retailer selling beach attire, snorkels and other products. People had no reason to leave the grounds as there were food vendors as well with places to dine. Numerous DJs and a visiting band provided music along with Zumba keep-fit instructors, gymnastics, tae kwon do martial artistes and a variety of free children’s entertainment.


A team of more than 30 marshals controlled the parking area and medical facilities were also available.


Mr Whitaker added: “We have had great support from a lot of ministries, especially the Ministry of Culture and we have to pay a big debt of gratitude to Shaikha May. This Season of Sport is exactly what she wanted to do and I think this is a great example of her vision. We would like to thank the Bahrain Coast Guard and Ministry of Interior for all their efforts as well.”




Amwaj Islands Press contact:
Marketing and PR
Amwaj Islands
(00973) 1603 3100