Egyptian authorities crack down on Cairo’s soaring kite flying, trade

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The established pastime in the capital has become more popular amid the Covid-19 pandemic

July 14, 2020

July 14, 2020

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Egyptian authorities are cracking down on kite flyers and makers in Cairo, where the aerodynamic structures made of paper, plastic and wicker sticks have been filling the sky every day.

Security officials said the crackdown in the capital was designed to protect lives following the death of kite flyers who fell off buildings’ roofs or run over by cars. They said those who died included children but did not give a figure for how many died in those accidents.

Launched over the weekend, the crackdown in Cairo targeted flyers as well as kite manufacturers and sellers. Police detained 16 people who had 70 kites in their possession, said the officials.

Born out of boredom during months of social isolation, kite flying has taken Cairo by storm, with thousands of the colorful structures crowding Cairo’s evening skies every day. Kite flying is not new to Cairo, but never in living memory have there been so many above the city, home to over 20 million people. The hobby has widely spread, with kites flying over densely-populated neighborhoods, Nile bridges, highways, busy streets and the rooftops of apartment high rises.

It’s the latest pastime among Cairo’s working and middle class, surpassing fishing in the Nile or raising and breeding pigeons on rooftops. It has drawn men from all ages and backgrounds and outlived the coronavirus lockdown that was almost completely lifted in June 27.

So many kites are up every day in the Cairo evening sky that a politician called for their ban on the grounds that they could pose a security risk if fitted with tiny cameras to spy on sensitive installations. He said as many as 18 children have fallen to their death from rooftops while flying kites. His claim was never confirmed by the police.

Kite flying has become so popular in the coastal city of Alexandria that the local governor banned them altogether last week for safety reasons. Offenders are fined up to 1,000 pounds.

Updated: July 14, 2020 12:09 AM

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