Here’s something you may not know about the Kingdom – Saudi has some of the best diving spots in the world. The Hijaz coast which borders the Red Sea offers a richness of marine wildlife that is unparallelled (the islands around Farasan are replete with dolphins, turtles and sharks). Saudi can rival or even beat neighbors like Egypt when it comes to a diving experience. But, as always, the secret is in the marketing.
I had the pleasure of talking to one person who is doing his utmost to tell everyone he meets about the beauty of Saudi Arabia’s Hijaz Coast and the wonders of diving for both expats and the country’s nationals. Nawaf Al Otaibi is one of the founders of Bubblers, a Saudi-based group that aims to give as many people as possible the chance to fall in love with diving off Saudi’s coast.
“We set up Bubblers to offer people new to the sport a simply way to get certified and also give divers the chance to get back into the water once they’ve completed their certifications. We wanted to help people dive in an organized fashion, and we focus on arranging group trips that range from one to five days in length. We also offer snorkeling to people who want to dip their toes into the water but aren’t yet sure about taking up diving. Our aim is to show to as many people as possible what the Red Sea has to offer and we’ve found that eight percent of our snorkelers sign up for a full diving course as soon as they’re out of the water and back on the boat.”
Bubblers is the first Saudi-based scuba diving community that bills itself as multinational – the group has a Facebook presence and just under two hundred members to date. And Bubblers aims to please all. “We have a diverse group of divers, including Saudis. We’re finding that more and more Saudis are joining us on our trips. Over the past two months, Bubblers has arranged four trips, each with a maximum of twenty people. The ages have ranged from 11 up to 72 years. We take care of everything, from A to Z, even including flights from Riyadh, food and other transportation needs. We’re also finding that women are taking up the sport. They can dive fully hooded and covered, and we welcome then on board our trips.”
No matter how good you are, if you’re a newbie or you already have fish gills, Bubblers can take care of you through a host of diving courses and training, including the basic open water diver developed by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, as well as the advanced open water diver, master scuba diver and dive master certification.
And on the issue of women diving in the Kingdom, you may be surprised. Scuba diving can be done in my favorite piece of clothing, the burkini, and a recent article in English-language newspaper Arab News focused on demands from Saudi women for female-only diving areas. I’ve pull a quick quote from the article, which highlights the obstacles women face when diving in the Kingdom.
An increasing number of women scuba divers want designated areas to dive in the Red Sea to avoid the obstacles they face when trying to obtain a permit for a diving trip.
Just to whet your appetite have a look at these pictures from Bubblers divers, including the talented photographer Mr. Vincent Al Hawary.
If your interest has been piqued then call Nawaf on and start planning for an unforgettable experience. His details and details for the rest of the group’s founders can be found in this handy pdf brochure made by the team at Bubblers (please do click on the link below). Of course, you won’t need me to tell you that you will need Adobe Acrobat or a pdf viewer to open.