Meet the kitesurfing instructor harnessing the wind and waves in Qatar

Rashid Al Mansoori competing in the NEOM Beach Games in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Rashid Al Mansoori competing in the NEOM Beach Games in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia   -   Copyright  jorge ferrari/NEOM
By Gregory Ward

SCENES shines a spotlight on youth around the world that are breaking down barriers and creating change. The character-driven short films will inspire and amaze, as these young change-makers tell their remarkable stories.

An athletic figure cuts across the water at lightning speed as the wind blows and the sea water splashes. Wet and windy weather is not everybody's idea of fun, but for Rashid Al Mansoori, these conditions are perfect. Rashid is the first Qatari kitesurfing instructor in Qatar and spends most of his days slicing through waves.

"Being in the water kitesurfing gives me an amazing feeling. If I am feeling anxiety or stress from normal life, I go Kitesurfing," explains Rashid. "You don't need petrol; you don't need electricity. All you need is the wind, the water, and equipment," he adds.

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Rashid Al Mansoori gliding along the water in Katara Beach, QatarEuronews

Broken Dreams

Rashid began his sporting career as an aspiring football player. He played for his local academy and represented his country in the Under-18 Qatar National Team. His footballing future looked promising until he was involved in a car accident that changed his life forever. Rashid shattered several bones in his legs and was placed in a medically induced coma for three days.

"When I woke up, I felt numbness in my body, especially in my legs. That stopped me from playing football professionally. I tried hard to go back and play football again, but I couldn't," explains Rashid.

Sport is part of Rashid's DNA, and he was determined to find an alternative activity to enrich his life. "I tried kayaking, swimming, cycling, and climbing. But when I tried Kitesurfing, I fell in love with it," he says.

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Rashid says that the best time to kitesurf is when the weather is windyEuronews

Apprentice to master

Rashid enrolled in several beginners' courses and quickly mastered the sport. He began kitesurfing alone and travelled abroad to obtain his instructor qualification from The International Kiteboarding Organisation.

"I've kitesurfed in many countries around the world. I've been to Poland, China, UAE, Syria, and Sri Lanka. It feels amazing to travel the world kite surfing," Rashid tells Scenes.

In 2020, Rashid graduated from university, where he studied business management. His studies and love for kite surfing inspired him to start a business. Rashid's company, Salty Kites, teaches Kitesurfing to people of all ages, backgrounds and experience levels.

"When I teach people, I feel really fulfilled. I love helping people explore themselves. I enjoy helping people discover their strengths and weaknesses," Rashid says. "I love seeing people grow," he adds.

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Rashid explains the safety procedures to his student Vanessa at Katara Beach, QatarEuronews

'An amazing feeling.'

Vanessa Rieck is one of Rachid's students, and she has been training with him for nearly two years. Her interest in Kitesurfing began when she was looking for a sport to keep her occupied during Qatar's cooler winter months.

"It's such an amazing feeling being on the water, riding the waves. I really love getting close to nature," Vanessa tells Scenes. "In the beginning, it can get quite scary with all the power you get from the kite. I think the lessons really helped to make me comfortable on the water," she says.

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Rashid teaches Vanessa how to use a Foil Kite in Katara Beach, QatarEuronews

Teaching kite surfing safety procedures to his students is a priority for Rashid. Although he says the sport is safe, he emphasises the importance of training with a qualified instructor. "If you did not have a qualified instructor, it could be hazardous for you; you may hurt yourself," Rashid explains. "Using the wrong gear or messing up the equipment could be dangerous," he says.

'I had to release my kite.'

Rashid knows all too well the perils of kite surfing without adequate experience. The wind took hold of his kite during his first competition and blew him high above the water. "That was one of the scariest moments I had whilst kite surfing. The wind was incredibly powerful, and I had to release my kite," he recalls.

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Rashid tightens the harness of one of his students at The Inland Sea, QatarEuronews

Kite surfing is becoming increasingly popular in Qatar due to its beautiful lagoons and windy beaches. The sport has traditionally been associated with western ex-pats living in the country. However, many Qatari citizens have been inspired by Rashid and are booking classes with him.

"I speak the same language as them; I have the same mentality. We understand each other. It makes it easier for them to progress faster," Rachid says.

Rashid is a pioneer within the sport and within his own community. He is proud to be the first Qatari kite surfing instructor in the country and grateful for the gratitude he gets from his students. He hopes to continue to inspire people to step out of their comfort zone and embrace the sport he loves.

Journalist • Gregory Ward

Additional sources • Drone footage supplied by Azzam Al Mannai