Sharjah: For a man who first arrived in the UAE as an electrician in 1975, Haji Mohammad Amin has journeyed a long way. A quintessential Pakistani expat who came is search of the Gulf dream, he too can wax eloquent on the progression of his career and now his life in retirement. But if there’s one thing the 62-year-old can be identified with, it is the yearly kite gala or Basant Festival in Sharjah he has been part of for over a decade.
“Yes, I have been associated with the Basant Festival here for the past 13 years,” says the Sharjah resident and captain of the Kite Flying Club – UAE, ahead of the March 9 and 10 event in Sajja Industrial Area.
Huge turnout expected
The upcoming festival, which is being organised by Al Ghurair Exchange for the second year in a row, is set to welcome a record number of people this year.
Ali Hassan, business development manager at the exchange, says, “We are expecting over 20,000 people with more than 100,000 kites soaring into the skies.”
The Basant Festival, Hassan explains, is all about celebrating the advent of spring. It is marked by much colour and gaiety with food, music and entertainment a part and parcel of the festivities. A family event, it is open to people of all nationalities, ages and backgrounds.
As the countdown to this year’s event begins, the kite supplies are in place. While Al Ghurair Exchange will be giving away over 2,000 free kites to visitors, dedicated stalls like that of Amin will also be selling them.
Says Amin’s son Adil: “My father gets the kites from suppliers in Pakistan and they come in two varieties: the square gudas and the more professional pathangs. Even the threads or charkhis which are required to fly the kites are brought from back home. The kite prices range from Dh2 to Dh300. Similarly, the charkhis come from anywhere between Dh30 and Dh350 a roll.”
Amin says the popular annual festival in Sharjah has moved many locations since its inception. “Every year, it attracts thousands of overseas visitors, including those from the UK, US and GCC.”
He said although the Basant Festival is held once year, the kite flying community in the UAE is active every weekend. “Our teams fly kites at Sajja every Friday. It is like a mini Basant itself.”