local1KUWAIT: The 27th Annual Pearl Diving festival kicked off yesterday morning at the Kuwait Sea Sports Club (KSSC) in Salmiya, under the patronage of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. The long running festival is a tribute to Kuwait's economic and cultural heritage and aims to to preserve the art and occupation of pearl diving and to teach young generations the lifestyle of their forefathers.

KSSC has been holding a pearl diving trip for the last 27 years and this traditional annual activity is performed by young sailors from Kuwait and other Gulf countries like Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Under the leadership of experienced sea captains, the young sailors embark on a weeklong sea voyage where they will anchor off Khairan island and dive for pearls.

Attending the festival, the Minister of Information and Minister of State for Youth Affairs Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Salem Al-Homoud Al-Sabah saluted the young sailors and wished them well on their journey.

Speaking on the upcoming 23rd edition of the biennial football competition of the Gulf Cup 'Gulf 23', which Kuwait will host, Sheikh Salman added that the authorities would take strict actions against anyone who abuses Kuwait's reputation in the sport or hinders its development and progress.

Al-Hamoud added that Kuwait has organized many international, regional and GCC tournaments so it is capable of hosting the 'Gulf 23' in terms of sports facilities and budgets and in terms of young athletes. "Everyone should be responsible and work for the benefit of Kuwait sports," he said pointing out to the large of number of youth participating in the pearl diving festival as an example of the younger generations' ability to drive the country's sporting fields forward.

Meanwhile, Sea Sports Club Chairman of the Board Fahd Al-Fahd, said that "the slogan of this year's festival titled 'These are my children' goes in line with the phrase used by HH the Amir when he rushed to the scene of the suicide bombing at the Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq Mosque in late June. When HH the Amir insisted to go inside the mosque even though the mosque was still on fire, he refused his security's pleas and said 'these are my children', which means that the people of Kuwait, all of us are his sons, and this phrase has become a shining example of our wise and compassionate commander and a sincere expression of his emotions; A true leader in the march of humanity". In closing he said that the trip of these pearl divers correspond to the words of HH the Amir to strengthen the spirit of national unity in the hearts of Kuwait's youth.

By Faten Omar