Kuwait's 28th Pearl Diving Expedition Gets Underway| MENAFN.COM

Tuesday, 25 January 2022 04:36 GMT

Kuwait's 28th Pearl Diving Expedition Gets Underway

(MENAFN- Arab Times) The 28th Pearl Diving expedition got underway at the Kuwait Sea Sports Club with more than 70 of the registered 129 enthusiasts showing up at the club on the first day to take part in the yearly event - the festival that commemorates the country's evolution from prior to the oil era when pearls formed the basis of Kuwait's wealth. The training began at 8:00 am and some of those taking part began arriving at the club much before the time schedule. The pearl diving festivals are a tribute to men who have worked with dedication to preserve the pearling industry for the benefit of the younger generation.

Hamad Al-Sayyer who is head of the expedition and is fondly called Abu Badr explained before taking to the sea the young divers must undergo a rigorous training. "The pearl divers, particularly the newcomers, have to learn the basics of diving and sailing and take notes from experienced former divers and captains about the 'ins' and 'outs' of pearl diving and familiarize themselves with the equipment. Abu Badr said all depends on the ability and physical fitness of an individual because 'pearl diving' is not as easy as it may look. A lot of tedious work is involved."

He went on to say, "I am sorry to say those who cannot sustain the pressure of the expedition will not make the trip." As an initial test the participants were made to run hundred meters along the beach in the scorching heat of the early morning sun followed by a dive in the sea to test their aptitude and fitness. Abu Badr added although 129 have registered so far, this number may increase since Kuwaitis are still holidaying outside the country - an extension of the Eid Al-Fitr holidays.

He said this year 13 captains assisted by vice-captains will train groups of divers, each group consisting of about 10 to 12 divers. After completion of the training the divers will set sail for Khairan aboard dhows for the seven-day pearl diving extravaganza. Traditionally, ships or dhows are prepared by first beaching them along the shore and filling cracks with cotton dipped in oil. Then, a thick coating of noora (a mixture of shark oil and powder) is manually smeared over the hull, up to the water line. The pearl divers of today wear the same clothes as their forefathers.

The wazar (a wrap-around skirt that also serves as a head wrap) is worn along with diving trunks and T-shirts. They also wear a nose clip (fotam), neck basket (dieng) and toe anchor hajer. Abu Badr explained, during the dive, the diver is secured to the ship's railing with a rope tied around the waist and each time he is ready to surface, he tugs onto the rope, which is held by the helper at all times when the diver is underwater and then pulls up the diver.

The annual pearl diving festivals are held to help the younger generations feel the excitement and hardships faced by their forefathers. It's literally a dive into their glorious past, said Abu Badr. The pearl diving in Kuwait, Abu Badr said, has become more enjoyable and entertaining - an integral part of Kuwaiti culture which keeps the tradition alive and makes the youth aware of the rich heritage of their country. The festival is held under the patronage of HH the Amir and sponsored by local companies.

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