Coast Guard and Border Department’s general director Ali Ahmad Saif al-Bedayd inaugurates the sea safety festival yesterday. PICTURE: Shemeer Rasheed
By Hamza Jilani/Staff Reporter
In an effort to prepare for the approaching hordes of people gearing up to take to the seas this summer to escape the heat, Qatar’s Coast Guard and Border Department launched the Coast Guard Festival at Katara Beach, where short workshops on safety and emergency response for the seagoing public will be offered.
“We have a problem with drownings and communication with the Coast Guard and as a response, we have launched this festival for the first time to educate people about how to use their equipment, safe practices and how to contact us when they need us,” said one officer who didn’t have the permission to speak on record. “We hope a lot of people come because this is important for their safety.”
The festival was inaugurated yesterday morning by Coast Guard and Border Department’s general director Ali Ahmad Saif al-Bedayd and will end tomorrow evening, with two daily sessions taking place from 9am-12am and 4pm-8pm. Small courses offered to the public include small boat and yacht handling, radio communication with the Coast Guard authority, navigation to keep enthusiasts from getting lost at sea to help in cases where search and rescue is needed, introduction to all necessary equipment such as life jackets, rings and other flotation devices as well as the knot techniques for rigging along with the necessary tool kits and procedures needed in case something breaks down.
“While the public is offered real time experience by us on our boat trips which will be offered throughout the festival, they can also take advantage of the simulator set ups we have here. While the simulators are a simpler version of what we have set up at our training centre in Ras Abu Aboud, they are able to mimic 70-80% of the situations one can face out at sea,” said practical maritime trainer Mohamed Eltahir Mohameh Elbashir.
“They can always sign up for the different courses we provide at the centre if they are interested. Currently we have trained and certified a number of private security companies like Hemaia to keep the sea-enjoying public safe.”
Also offered at the festival are books and pamphlets in English and Arabic which highlight preemptive safety measures and general guidelines for a variety of sea-based activities.
Officials at the event, which is being sponsored by Seashore Group, IECO Group, Al Fardan Marine Services Co, Multi Services Company Qatar and Ruwais Marine Services, said that similar events will take place in the future in the form of varied public awareness campaigns to reduce risk at sea.