By Nawara Fattahova

KUWAIT: Founding a club for aviation lovers has been the dream of Wael Al-Majed, an assistant professor at the College of Technological Studies at the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training, since 2009. But till today, he has not been able to realize this dream despite many meetings with various authorities in charge, which made him believe that his dream will not come true without wasta (connections).

Majed created a website, in 2008, on which lovers of aviation could get to know each other. Aviation hobbyists first met in August 2009, and in 2010, they gathered to set up the Kuwait Aviation Club and formed a limited board of directors to meet the requirements of the ministry of social affairs and labor which dictates a club must have at least 50 founding members.

A few days later, the members submitted the agreed status of the proposed club to the ministry, requesting its official declaration. At that time it was possible to found a club under the supervision of MSAL, which later changed, and clubs came under the Public Authority for Youth and Sports.

In 2011, the founding members met the social affairs minister. MSAL advised the members to apply at PAYS, which replied that they are not in charge as there is no competition in this hobby or activity. So they went back to MSAL, which demanded receiving an approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the interior ministry and the defense ministry. The DGCA formed a committee with both the ministries and they discussed the application.

“We didn’t receive any response from the interior or defense ministries. DGCA told us that we must amend our status and goals and cancel flying activities inside Kuwait of all kinds, but we could practice these activities abroad. So we amended the status and goals to meet their demands, and DGCA approved our club, but we didn’t receive approval from the interior or defense ministries,” Majed told Kuwait Times.

The members cut down the goals of the club to meet the demands of officials. “We squeezed our goals to five main ones including raising the name of Kuwait internationally in the aviation field, presenting air shows and social activities during national celebrations, fill the time of members and prospective members with useful flying and cultural activities, spread the hobby of private flying among the community with air safety and respect of laws, and highlight and refine the talents of members and develop their capabilities in practicing flying activities inside and outside Kuwait,” he recalled.

Majed tried repeatedly to meet officials from the ministries of interior and defense, but he was not successful. “I never received any response to our official letter. Also, when I went to MSAL again to follow up, they sent a second letter to the interior and defense ministries, but haven’t received any answer till today,” he rued.

At the end of 2019, the College of Aviation Technology adopted them, and they reorganized their status and some of the founding members. “The college provided us with our headquarters at their premises. By this time, the ministry of social affairs stopped having clubs under its supervision. We are not a sports club, but a social and cultural club practicing aviation activities. Similar clubs can be found in other countries such as Saudi Arabia or Egypt directly under the civil aviation authorities,” stressed Majed.

“We also aim to be founded under DGCA and submitted our application to them as part of the college. The pandemic then postponed everything. The college is also exerting efforts in this matter. We call on the DGCA to adopt us the same way as other neighboring countries. If they argue about the small area of Kuwait, then Qatar and Bahrain are close examples – they are smaller than Kuwait, yet there is an aviation club in Qatar and an aviation school in Bahrain,” he reasoned.

The members aim to found a club rather than an association. “Internationally, aviation bodies that practice all flying activities and are not limited to only gliding are clubs and not associations. Some people don’t like gliding and prefer a closed cockpit, which is not available at the Kuwait Aviation Team, for instance,” noted Majed.

“We need support from government officials. We suggest being formed under both DGCA and the ministry of social affairs. Sociocultural activities and financial affairs will be under MSA, and aviation affairs and flying activities will be under DGCA. I haven’t lost hope in founding this club since 2008,” he told Kuwait Times.

Currently, the club has 59 founding members after the recent status update and new application. “One of the members is a single-engine plane dealer and another member owns a simulation cockpit, while others have paramotors (powered parachutes) or other light aircraft. There are many light aircraft that can be included in our club. But in Kuwait, not all kinds are available. Here we have gyrocopters (a hybrid of an aircraft and helicopter) and powered parachutes, which don’t need a long runway,” explained Majed.

“We currently meet as members only and hold activities among us as family gatherings. We can’t hold any public activities as we don’t have any official status. We hope Sheikh Dr Mohammed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, former deputy prime minister and former foreign minister, will adopt us and become our honorary president. The club will include all kinds of aviation activities including single-engine planes, balloons, simulations, skydiving and other flying, social and cultural activities,” he concluded.