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Sharm el Sheikh doesn’t suck!

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It finally happened! What finally happened you may ask?

June 8th saw the official launch of Camel Dive Club & Hotel outlets (Camel Bar, Pomodoro restaurants and Vanilla Café) only providing stainless straws for selected drinks and/or on request.

Why did it take so long?

A few local bars in Sharm el Sheikh had already started implementing no plastic straws from February 3rd (International Straw Free Day) after a group of eco-friendly residents who wanted to make a difference in Sharm set up a Facebook group, called “Straw Free Sharm” aimed at educating the local community.

Since its beginning in 1986, Camel Dive Club & Hotel has been pioneering eco-friendly ideas in Sharm el Sheikh thanks to their owner, Mr. Hesham Gabr, who cares greatly about global and local environmental issues. This latest revolutionary move was driven by the amount of non-biodegradable plastic straws that were found during Camel’s regular underwater clean ups, causing research to begin into reducing plastic straw use at all Camel Dive Club & Hotel food & beverage outlets.

The project had a significant number of challenges and we wanted to take our time and find a way that Camel could become straw free, whilst ensuring no detrimental effect on our customer service or the local environment. The Camel marketing team have been working on this project since November 2017. It has been an interesting journey where the whole team has learnt a lot about straw use in general. I think if any of us ever see another plastic straw again, it will be too soon!

We learnt that there are no eco-friendly plastic alternative straws available in Egypt. However, thanks to our fantastic engineering department we have also learnt that it is relatively simple to get them manufactured locally for a small fee. One of the most surprising discoveries that we made was that the outlets at Camel Dive Club & Hotel used 32,150 plastic drinking straws in 2017 alone. As Mr Hesham Gabr said: “This has to stop!”

After many hours of in-depth research and thorough road tests of samples that we had acquired, we decided that the stainless steel reusable straw was going to be the best option (even though we are a bit concerned about possible thefts.) The humble stainless steel straw stood up to hygiene and satisfaction tests, as well as definitely providing the best slurp-ability for the duration of the drink. Did you know that they even help to keep drinks cold?

The next bit of the puzzle was to find a supplier that could ship supplies to us in Egypt at a reasonable cost and if possible, without the stock being held up in customs for too long. Thanks to our friends Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown of Scubaverse, we managed to choose an extremely helpful supplier based in the UK called EcoStrawz.

After many emails and even more free samples, we placed the order. The project was finally starting to feel very real at last and it was very exciting. The stock destined for Camel was shipped to a UK address for collection by myself, then brought back to Sharm el Sheikh after a short trip to visit family. I can highly recommend it as a way to limit your UK shopping spree as an expat. There is not so much room for Jaffa Cakes and Marmite if you are trying to fit 150 stainless steel straws into your luggage!

150 stainless steel straws is not a lot you may think. However, after many calculations of how many drinks the Camel outlets sold in 2017, we decided that it would be enough as we only plan to give our guests a straw on request or with the slightly difficult drinks, for example cocktails that contain crushed ice, or the thick fruit juices and milkshakes that we serve.

The straws made it safely to Sharm after a brief discussion at Sharm Airport about what they were. (At four o’clock in the morning after arriving in Sharm el Sheikh via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines, even I was struggling to explain what they were, and as some of you know, I can talk for Wales!)

We held a soft launch on May 25th after training all our waiting and bar staff who were incredible supportive of this project, to gain as much feedback as possible. The outcome was fantastic with enormous support from the whole community and, of course, our guests.

To celebrate this innovative outcome of reusable straws in Sharm el Sheikh and Egypt as a whole, Camel Dive Club and Camel Bar hosted an event on World Oceans Day, June 8th, 2018.

During the day, Camel boats successfully completed a Dive against Debris, in which over 30 staff and guests from the UK, the USA, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Holland, Russia and of course Egypt, collected over 22kg of debris in just one hour underwater at two different dive sites in Sharm el Sheikh. Resident 12 year old Luca Hales, who recently was nominated as a PADI Ambassadiver, took part in the events, boosting the importance of educating younger generations, as well as the responsibility of the diving industry to set a role model when it comes to protecting the environment.

In the evening of the same day, during the weekly Divers’ Night at Camel Bar, residents and guests enjoyed a Quiz in aid of Project AWARE with rounds that included plastic, the Ocean and Egyptian topics, accompanied by a finger food buffet and dancing, combined with some excellent Karaoke singing that went on well in to the night.

It was a lot of fun, and as a community it was great to see so many different dive centers there and over 70 people in total; all united in their support of a plastic free world and future.

Hate Plastic Straws? Love Sharm and Camel Dive Club!


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

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. Currently operating as a freelance dive instructor and environmental tourism consultant, Beth can usually be found chatting with guests and even occasionally underwater!

Gear News

Jeff chats to… Sean Webb, Director of O’Three, about diving in the UK and the O’Three brand

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Sean Webb, Director of O’Three, the well-known UK-based manufacturer of custom drysuits and wetsuits.

After a bath time quarrel with his sister, Sean’s Mum taught him a lesson.

She held his head underwater for what she thought was long enough for that lesson to sink in (We are talking the mid 60’s here), but the lesson learned wasn’t the one that was intended. It was then that Sean realized he was comfortable, in or under the water. He was six.

The coasts of Devon and Dorset became his playground. 17 years later, with a trip around the world and some incredible diving under his belt, Sean Webb founded O’Three.

Now in its 32nd  year, O’Three has evolved from a business with roots that are unashamedly rooted in UK diving, to a niche brand being enjoyed all over the world by discerning recreational, technical and commercial divers alike.

Find out more at www.othree.co.uk


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Cool Drysuit Dives

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In the mood for a snowy holiday when you can get back into the water? Why not get back to your favourite underwater sport instead of hitting the slopes like everyone else? Check these incredible dive sites and explore a new underwater world in your drysuit!

Rummu Quarry, Estonia

The quirkiest and spookiest ice diving site in Europe is only 45 minutes driving from the capital of Estonia, Tallinn. Rummu Quarry used to be a limestone mining site and a prison. When the excavation labour ceased in the 1990s, pumps that kept the quarry dry were shut down. Soon water started flooding the entire site. After the prison closed in 2012, Rummu became an adventure centre where you can practice different outdoor sports including diving in the crystal-clear waters of the quarry and explore the sunken ruins of the prison. Diving in Rummu Quarry is also available in the winter, making it a one-of-a-kind ice diving spot. Will you dare to do it?

Who to Dive With:

Adventurecenter Rummu

PADI 5 Star Center

Sireli Tanav 11, Harju Maakond, Rummu Quarry, Estonia 76102

+372 588 733 78

info@barrakuuda.ee

White Sea, Russia

Image by Viktor Lyagushkin

If diving in frozen lakes, which have almost no aquatic life, is not exciting enough for you, Russia is the place to go to practice marine ice diving. At the level of the Arctic Circle, the White Sea is the only sea that freezes in winter as all other places are warmed up by the Gulf Stream. Leaving from the shores of the region of Karelia, between St Petersburg and the border of Finland, you can go ice diving from December to April. In addition to impressive ice formations, you can also enjoy on the rocky sea-bed a surprise abundant marine fauna with soft coral, starfish, crabs, shrimps, sea urchins and sea anemones. An important point to remember, salt-water freezes at -1.8°C!

Who to Dive With:

Arctic Circle

PADI Dive Center

Nilmaguba, Loukhski Region, Republic of Karelia, Russia

(7) 495 105 7799

sever@dive.ru

Switzerland

You won’t find salty seas in Switzerland, but alpine lakes and rivers make for unique and mystical scuba diving.

Lake Geneva has a variety of dives to discover. Wall dives and freshwater scenery can be perused beneath the surface. There is even a wreck dive – a stellar spot for more advanced divers to take the plunge.

Another is Lake Zurich, where you can head to excellent scuba spots right from the shore. The lake is serene, with lofty mountains cascading upward from the lakeshore. Glacially fed, the lake has sublime visibility.

River divers will be blown away by the Verzasca, an impossibly clear river found just south of the Alps near the border of Italy.

Who to Dive with at Lake Geneva:

Scuba-Shop Villeneuve

PADI 5 Star Center and Instructor Development Center

Route D’Arvel 106, Villeneuve, Switzerland 1844

+41 21 9601535

phil@scubashop.ch

Austria

Salzburg Lake Image by Manfred Steidl

Landlocked Austria wouldn’t seem a good place for diving, but you can’t judge a book by its cover.

The Salzkammergut region of Austria has almost 170 lakes. A favourite is lake Attersee, where there are dive sites galore to check out, in this, the largest of the area’s lakes. Nazi treasures were once held in Wolfgangsee, and though you can’t take them with you, you can still see them on a dive.

During a trip here you can swim in the cold, gin clear water, checking out park benches, trees, and trails, all on a carpet of green grass. It’s unreal!

Who to Dive with at Salzburg Lakes:

Joe’s Wassersportcenter

PADI 5 Star Center

Innsbrucker Bundesstrasse 53, Salzburg, Austria 5020

+43 662 890259

info@wassersportcenter.at

Inspired to start your own ice diving adventure? Find out more about the PADI Ice Diver specialty and head to PADI Travel to look for amazing destinations.

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Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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