Farewell 2020: Kitesurfing The Pandemic Year in Kuwait

The year 2020 is folding so quickly with many events and scenes in our memories to remember. I wouldn’t say it felt like 8 hours, but certainly it felt much less than a year, with so many changes happening so fast. My experience with kitesurfing this year, just like almost everything else, got disturbed by the pandemic from ban on traveling, lockdowns, closed borders, social distancing, and curfews. Indeed the pandemic year was a disruption and discomfort to many lives by its uncertainty, ambiguity, and novelty. But as the vaccine is underway now, I hope the year 2021 comes with comfort and normalcy, and I hope we are settling in a better place.

Sunset from Failaka Island, East of Kuwait City, a kitesurfing spot yet to be discovered

Toward the beginning of the year I was on my way to join the Redbull Ragnarok snowkiting race in Norway, when the ban on traveling started to be imposed globally. Prior to the race in 10 days, the Norwegian health authorities banned all sports events and subsequently the Redbull Ragnarok was canceled. Eventually I stranded in Munich’s lockdown for a couple of weeks of uncertainty and ambiguity, until I got a flight back home. Arriving to Kuwait while traveling is still banned, forced the opportunity to spend the summer in Kuwait and get a full experience on Al Bawarih winds on Subiya Lagoon North of Kuwait City. In 2020, I found Al-Bawarih season as the most significant kitesurfing season in Kuwait, though its extremely hot, yet it is very windy. During Al-Bawarih season this year many new riders have joined the community thanks to the local kite instructors who continued to teach kitesurfing during the summer.

The Kitesurfing Days..

About two years ago I started to collect simple data on my kitesurfing sessions in Kuwait such as; spot name, wind direction, kite size, and date. Along side the data collected, I started the goodwind.blog to write about the experience and the conditions on different kitesurfing spots. I believe gathering such information helps nourishing and flourishing the kitesurfing community in Kuwait.

During the year 2020 I got 210 days that I spent in Kuwait, not in quarantine, traveling, nor lockdown. Out of the 210 days, there were 66 days of kitesurfing, with the bulk of these days in June, July, and August; Aka Summer or Al-Bawarih season. During these months wind comes about 2 to 3 days per week, specially on Subiya Lagoon. In fact, I only visit Subiya Lagoon when the forecast is showing wind over 15 knots, I don’t observe every day, thus I’m not sure about the wind and kite conditions on days that have shown less wind forecast; there is a probability that these days could have more wind than forecasted.

In total, I was kitesurfing in Subiya for 31 days out of 66 kiting days, and Dubaiya was second with 21 days. I prefer usually going to Dubaiya when the wind is good on the south coast because of its proximity of 30 minutes drive from Kuwait City, accessibility to the beach, and clarity of the water. Yet toward the end of 2020, the community has discovered a new spot in Nuwaiseeb on the very south coast. Though Nuwaiseeb is almost 60 minutes additional drive from Dubaiya, yet the conditions sometimes are worth the extra ride.

Spring 2020 wild flowers around Kuwait

The Insights ..

While collecting data on the windy days in 2019, I had gap months of March, April, July, and September, where I didn’t spend much time in Kuwait to kitesurf. In 2020 I was able to spend more time in Kuwait and kite during most of the periods that I missed in the previous year. Yet March and April 2020 both months happened to be still poor in data. For the available collected data in 2019 and 2020, I came with the conclusion that January, June, July, and August, are the most windy months in Kuwait. During these months the chance to go kitesurfing is more than 10 days per month, compared to about 6 days per month for almost the rest year. The month with the least wind is September, which coincides with Suhail season where season changes, humidity increases, and wind drops significantly. To put the finding into perspective, I created the following chart with my estimated kiting days per the calendar months, locally known seasons, dominant wind direction, and the kite size I frequently used.

Summary chart on kitesurfing during different months of the year based on personal experience in 2019 and 2020

* Spots south of Kuwait City; Dubaiya, Bnaider, Khiran, Nuwaiseeb

** Different season names as known locally by meteorologists and astronomers with deviations in some names

The summary and conclusions on the chart above are only based on the collected data from 134 kitesurfing days during the past two years with the absence of several months each year. Thus with more data collected in the coming years these conclusions could change. In general, the decision on which spot to kite on or which kite size to use depends on the wind forecast of the given day and actual wind conditions on the spot.

The Blog ..

For the goodwind.blog the year 2020 was fruitful with more coverage on kitesurfing spots in Kuwait, with more understanding of the local wind system and different kitesurfing conditions on the coastal line, in addition coverage on El Gouna and the Red Sea Islands. The quarantining periods helped in adding a section on the blog for posts in Arabic language, بالعربي, to reach more readers from the region; with few posts published so far and hopefully more to come in 2021. Overall, the year was generous with meeting new wonderful people around the kitesurfing community. I hope the year 2021 comes easy and happy to everyone, to be free of fear and quarantine, and more wind and kitesurfing adventures, and I hope by March I will be able to do the Redbull Ragnarok snowking race. Happy new year!

Videos from 2020

Kitesurfing Subiya, Summer 2020
Kitesurfing El Gouna, November 2020
Snowkiting Obertauern, March 2020

Photos from 2020

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