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A Brief History of Sharm el Sheikh

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A warm welcome to our latest blogger, Beth Sanders, who joins us from Camel Dive Club in Sharm el Sheikh.

I will “begin at the beginning…” to quote another famous Welsh poet! I would like to start with the roots of Sharm el Sheikh to help you understand how this captivating place grew into the magical area it is today.

Now, I may be getting on a bit but I wasn’t actually here at the beginning. However, I am lucky to see some of the founders on a daily basis as Camel Dive Club was established in 1986. I am proud to say that they are still very active members of the community. I get sat down and shown pictures of the good old times on average once a week.

“Boring” some may say, but I love every second of it! To imagine and hear about how Sharm was before the hotels and all those ghastly taxi drivers is a privilege that I would like to share with you.

Sharm el Sheikh is of great strategic importance geographically and like many great territories it has had its ownership changed many times. That is, until 1982, when it was for the final time restored to Egypt.

The diving here started long before that though. The first tourism originated as early as 1967 when Sharm was nothing but an occasional base for local fisherman passing through. With few hotels, and a unique underwater topography, divers started to appear. Not wearing what we wear today for a dive but clothed in the old BLJ’s and very unfashionable fins, masks and wetsuits.

They discovered an underwater realm with a thousand different blues and kaleidoscopic fish. They of course told their friends. It was tricky to get to Sharm at first: no airport, frightful roads and nowhere to stay, but with demand so comes the supply.

Hotels, dive centers and even roads started to emerge in the desert landscape! Sharm grew from having three resorts in 1982 to 91 resorts by the year 2000! Sharm el Sheikh with its year round sunshine and warm water turned into a destination enjoyed by divers and holidaymakers alike.

Now I won’t lie to you Dear Reader… Sharm, like many other places in our crazy world, has had its fair share of annoyances over the past few years but if anything this only drives to make this amazing place stronger. The already tight community pulls even tighter together and the diving gets better and better.

Having lived here for so long, I have to say that I feel safer in Sharm el Sheikh than most other places in the world, especially as a single female. I always feel reassured by the smiles that meet me as I go about my daily tasks. This is something that is very difficult to find anywhere in this day and age.

With fewer dive boats than in the early 2000’s, I personally have seen that these days the coral is gaining strength and other marine life recuperating quickly.

Rare fish like sailfish are becoming almost a regular encounter and whalesharks are popping up all over the place. It’s getting increasingly difficult to finish a dive briefing without someone screaming DOLPHINS halfway through!!

This summer was honestly the best summer of diving in Sharm el Sheikh I have ever had in 10 years of living and guiding dives here.

Many tourists and residents leave, but they always return. I think Sharm el Sheikh is a bit like “Hotel California” – you can leave, but you can never check out!

When are you coming back?


Inspired? Take a look at www.cameldive.com and book your trip!

There’s still time to enter our fantastic competition to win a holiday to two people to Sharm El Sheikh in association with Camel Dive Club and Hotel, the Egyptian Tourism Authority and Westfield (Sub Aqua & Marine) Insurance Services Ltd. Enter here for your chance to win! Competition ends: 23/12/17.

Beth "my lovelies" Sanders achieved her PADI Open Water in her native Wales and became completely addicted to the underwater world. Her fixation has cost her jobs, boyfriends and a whole load of other 'respectable' things so finally she had to make the diving pay! Becoming a Scuba Instructor was the only option... Beth was very lucky to combine this with her love of warm weather and has lived in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt since 2007. After joining the team at Anthias Divers as General Manager, Beth can usually be found chatting with guests and even occasionally underwater!

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Breaking News: Captain charged in Conception boat fire tragedy

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According to reports in the international press today, it has been announced that the Captain of the dive boat Conception, which was completely destroyed by fire last year, resulting in the tragic loss of 34 passengers and crew, has been charged with 34 counts of seaman’s manslaughter. 

The Captain Jerry Nehl Boylan was among five crew members to escape the blaze on board Conception, a dive boat operated by Truth Aquatics, which took place in the early hours of 2 September 2019 whilst the boat was moored offshore, close to Santa Cruz Island off the coast of California.

The BBC reports that Mr Boylan has not publicly commented on the charges, and is expected to surrender to the authorities at a later date. According to the BBC, each charge of seaman’s manslaughter carries up to 10 years in federal prison.

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Crossover to NAUI for FREE!

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As a boost to help the diving industry, NAUI are still offering a FREE Instructor cross-over course together with five free certifications to all Instructors. This can include Open Water, Advance, Rescue, Nitrox and various other specialities and can be mixed and matched so all five do not necessarily need to be for the same certification.

NAUI have also frozen the membership fees for 2021 for instructors crossing over or restarting.

NAUI’s Southern UK Rep Simon Lodge says: “Throughout this year, the diving industry has severely suffered so as a result, to help kickstart the diving industry NAUI will not be charging membership fees 2020/2021 to any new instructors.” 

Founded in 1960, NAUI Worldwide is one of the scuba industry’s largest not-for-profit agencies whose purpose is to enable people to enjoy underwater activities as safely as possible by providing the highest quality practical education, and to actively promote the preservation and protection of the world’s underwater environments. As a pioneer in diving education, NAUI has developed many of the programs and concepts accepted throughout the diving industry. NAUI: A Higher Standard!

For more details please contact Simon Lodge (Southern UK Rep) on simon@europe.naui.org or Craig Warner (Northern UK Rep) on cwarner@europe.naui.org.

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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