Kite festival to help tourism industry soar

|     James Kon & Rokiah Mahmud     |

IN A bid to boost tourism in the country, the 1st Brunei Darussalam International Kite Festival attracted participants from overseas and visitors to the country, Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong said.

He made these comments in an interview on the sidelines of the launch of the 1st Brunei Darussalam International Kite Festival at Taman Mahkota Jubli Emas yesterday.

The minister expressed hopes the Brunei Darussalam Kite Association would carry on the momentum and organise a national kite festival annually to attract more youth participants. He also conveyed his gratitude to the Brunei Darussalam Kite Association for hosting the festival this year.

Vice Chairman of Weifang Kite Association Tan Xinbo, a participant from China, said, “I have participated in numerous international kite festivals, but this is the first time that the leader of a country has officiated the opening ceremony. This demonstrates His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s attention to cultural activities.

“Weifang is the world capital of kite. It is where the kite was invented. We have organised the kite festival 36 times, and every year we have participants from Brunei Darussalam. Brunei’s traditional kite is unique and through events like this, we understand more about Brunei’s culture and its people who are warm and friendly,” he said.

Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong and Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong at the 1st Brunei Darussalam International Kite Festival. – RAHWANI ZAHARI
Derek Kuhn and Jacqueline Mount Joy. – ROKIAH MAHMUD
Tan Xinbo from China. – RAHWANI ZAHARI
Saili Matarsad has been making kites since he was 10. – ROKIAH MAHMUD
Participants flying their kites at the festival. – INFOFOTO

“This activity has raised the good image of Brunei Darussalam and we will definitely go back and promote Brunei’s kite culture and tradition. This will further boost tourism. In Weifang province, we managed to build our tourism industry through kite. Flying a kite can also promote a healthy lifestyle and I hope Brunei will host such an activity next year,” he added.

China sent an 18-member delegation to participate in the 1st Brunei Darussalam International Kite Festival.

Meanwhile, Derek Kuhn from the United Kingdom, explained to the Bulletin that flying kites has been his passion for many years, and that his enthusiasm for the pastime has grown over the years.

“Flying kites has brought me to many parts of the world and has given me the opportunity to see different types and designs of kites. This is my first time coming to Brunei and I’m amazed with the friendliness that has been shown by the people,” he said.

“It’s a great passion and way to relax one’s mind, and gives you the chance to see peoples’ creativity in designing the kites and look at what materials they use. Brunei is a great place for flying kites and it’s a nice opportunity [in this festival] to see the traditional kites that are considered as Brunei’s tradition heritage.”

Jacqueline Mount Joy, a participant from South Africa, shared her passion in designing her own kites.

“I can complete one kite design within one to three days,” she said. “My interest in kites has given me the opportunity to travel around the world and share my passion with other enthusiasts.”

Asked why she loves her passion, Jacqueline smiled and said, “We fly kites until we cannot fly anymore. Even though I’m wheelchair-bound, this does not limit me in flying kites. I even have a collection of different kites that I’ve made myself.”

For Saili Matarsad, a local kite maker, kite making is definitely a rewarding activity as “you can express your own creativity and create kites in any size you want.”

“I am quite amazed with the response shown by the public in purchasing many of our kites today,” said Saili Matarsad, who has been making kites since 1973, at the age of 10.

“It’s not just the kids who are looking forward to fly the kites – their parents are taking part as well, as it brings back childhood memories of them flying kites after school.”