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Let's go fly a kite, up to the highest height.

THE Bahraini sky was filled with colour as kites took over the kingdom leaving a mesmerised crowd hanging on the line and wanting more.

A travelling Kuwaiti kite team known as Bu Hamad - made up of family and friends - decided to bring some cheer to the kingdom with their array of bright and bold designs.

Ali bu Hamad, 36, a petroleum engineer, has been making and flying kites since childhood and said: "Kiting is a popular sport and makes for a great hobby. In the same way people love to play golf, we love to fly our kites!

"There weren't many sports in Kuwait around the 1970s apart from football and suddenly kiting became all the craze."

The Bu Hamad team started with a few family members and now boasts 30 keen flyers who all love to build kites of different shapes and sizes and take to the air.

They purchase items such as specially designed light material, for optimum lift, to make the flying contraptions from professional kiting stores around the world including the US, England and New Zealand.

"We have entered a number of international competitions as well as some in Kuwait in which we always end up in the 'top five' for biggest or most beautiful kite," said Ali, who hopes the recent display in Bahrain near Muharraq Bridge across from the Radisson SAS Hotel will boost interest in kiting.

"We want to share our kites with the Gulf," he added, "to make our country proud and to show young people that this is a great hobby. Kiting keeps you active and can be very relaxing too.

"Every weekend a few of us get in our bus and drive to a new destination to display our kites. We tend to stay for only two days because we all have jobs to get back to.

"Bahrain is a great place to fly a kite. We flew 45 kites, some were single-line known as show kites and others were dual-lines which were used for tricks, like jumping cars or sand surfing.

"We started setting up by the Muharraq Bridge at 9am and the second our kites went up a crowd of happy onlookers formed around us. Passers-by pulled over and parked their cars just to watch the show.

"I think if there was a kite competition in Bahrain it would probably go down really well because there seems to be a lot of interest and enthusiasm for the sport."

The team's next stops will be Dubai and Oman but the flyers hope to return to Bahrain soon.

Fact Box

Kites have been around for thousands of years and they are a part of many different cultures around the world.

From an aerodynamics point of view, two of the most important users of kites were flying pioneers, the US Wright brothers. In 1899, as they were developing their theories for the control of an aircraft by using wing warping, they built a small maneuverable kite to verify their ideas.

Between 1900 and 1903 they would often fly their gliders as unmanned kites at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. These experiments led directly to their successful 1903 aircraft.

While the forces on all kites are the same, each kite flies a little differently. Some kites are highly maneuverable and some kites are very stable.

There are kites with multiple control lines that can perform stunts, while other kites can be flown to high altitudes.

Flyers can use mathematical techniques to calculate the altitude at which a kite is flying.

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Publication:Gulf Weekly
Date:Feb 1, 2009
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