Thursday, July 16, 2020 | ePaper

Disputed Western Sahara becomes kitesurfing hotspot

  • Print


Agency :
In the heart of disputed Western Sahara, a former garrison town has become an unlikely tourist magnet after kitesurfers discovered the windswept desert coast was perfect for their sport.
In Dakhla, an Atlantic seaport town punctuated with military buildings in Morocco-administered Western Sahara, swarms of kitesurfers now sail in the lagoon daily.
"Here there is nothing other than sun, wind and waves. We turned the adversity of the elements to our advantage: that's the very principle of kitesurfing," said Rachid Roussafi.
After an international career in windsurfing and kitesurfing, Roussafi founded the first tourist camp at the lagoon at the start of the 2000s.
"At the time, a single flight a week landed in Dakhla," the 49-year-old Moroccan said.
Today, there are 25 a week, including direct flights to Europe.
"Dakhla has become a world destination for kitesurfing," said Mohamed Cherif, a regional politician.
Tourist numbers have jumped from 25,000 in 2010 to 100,000 today, he said, adding they hoped to reach 200,000 annual visitors.
The former Spanish garrison is booming today with the visitor influx adding to fishing and trade revenue.
Kitesurfing requires pricey gear-including a board, harness and kite-and the niche tourism spot attracts well-off visitors of all nationalities.
Peyo Camillade came from France "to extend the summer season", with a week's holiday costing about 1,500 euros ($1,660).
Only the names of certain sites, like PK 25 (kilometre point 25), ruined forts in the dunes and the imposing and still in-use military buildings in Dakhla, remind tourists of the region's history of conflict.
In the 1970s, Morocco annexed Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, and fought a war with the Algeria-backed Polisario Front from 1975 to 1991, when a ceasefire deal was agreed.
A United Nations mission was deployed to monitor the truce and prepare a referendum on Western Sahara's independence from Morocco, but it never materialized.
Without waiting for the political compromise that the UN has been negotiating for decades, hotels have sprouted from the sand along the coast, and rows of streetlights on vacant lots announce future subdivisions.
"The secret to success is to develop kitesurfing with good communication focused on the organisation of non-political events," said Driss Senoussi, head of the Dakhla Attitude hotel group.
Accordingly, the exploits of kitesurfing champions like Brazilian Mikaili Sol and the Cape Verdian Airton Cozzolino were widely shared online during the World Kiteboarding Championships in Dakhla last month.
The competition seemed to hold little interest for Dakhla's inhabitants however.

More News For this Category

Qatar to host Asian Champions League group matches

AFP, Kuala Lumpur :Qatar, host of the next World Cup in 2022, will stage West region matches of this year's Asian Champions League, officials said on Thursday, following a

BCB venues to be opened for players training from Saturday

BSS, Dhaka :The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) is set to open its all venues including the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium from Saturday for the cricketers personal training.The venues remained

BRU's prize distribution ceremony of quiz competition held

Mohammad Iftekhar Ahmed won the first prize of the online rugby quiz competition that was organised by Bangladesh Rugby Union (BRU) due to coronavirus pandemic, said a BRU press

Eilidh Doyle targets 400m hurdles at Tokyo Olympics

Eilidh Doyle targets 400m hurdles at Tokyo Olympics

BBC Online :Eilidh Doyle says the Tokyo Olympics being pushed back a year could be a "blessing in disguise" as she targets a place in the 400m hurdles.The 33-year-old

Intl’ athletics to return in August

Agency :International athletics season will finally start in August in Turku, Finland.According to World Athletics, the Turku stop of its inaugural Continental Tour Gold meetings will be held on

Mashrafe Bin Mortaza overcomes coronavirus

Mashrafe Bin Mortaza overcomes coronavirus

Sports Reporter :Former captain of Bangladesh National Cricket team and cricketer of Bangladesh ODI team Mashrafe Bin Mortaza overcame coronavirus on Tuesday night.Earlier, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza was tested positive

Rashford to receive honorary doctorate

Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford is set to become the youngest recipient of an honorary doctorate from The University of Manchester for his campaign to help needy children, the

'Unnecessary', Thiem fires back at Kyrgios in Adria Tour spat

'Unnecessary', Thiem fires back at Kyrgios in Adria Tour spat

AFP, Berlin  :World number three Dominic Thiem said on Monday tennis players "must learn" from the ill-fated Adria Tour and described Nick Kyrgios' criticism of those who took part

Japan's Olympic Stadium to host athletics event for first time

Japan's National Stadium will stage track and field events for the first time in August, the Japan Association of Athletics Federations (JAAF) announced on Tuesday. The Golden Grand Prix

BBF provides cash assistance to 100 basketball players

Considering the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Bangladesh Basketball Federation (BBF) come forward to help their 100 less earning players of different District Sports Association (DSA) across the country. m"Yes,