DIVAS IN DUBAI
The first thing that a lot of my friends have said to me, especially those from the USA, is that I am crazy, mad, lucky for not traveling on an American passport, and also to be careful! I would like to remove some of those misconceptions and write a little about living in Dubai (one of the seven Emirates) and about the diving here.
Dubai is a modern city, on the blue waters and clean sands of the Arabian Gulf, and it neighbours Oman and surrounding Emirates.
Unlike popular belief, Dubai’s main income is from the financial sector, construction and tourism, whereas other gulf countries, for example Kuwait, are far richer than the Emirates due to oil production. Dubai is a tax-free country, and 1/3 of the world’s money goes through Dubai every day. It is fantastic to work here tax-free and save your money off-shore.
One day I went with Pavilion Divers on an east coast trip. The east coast of the Emirates is the Indian Ocean and has the coral reefs and marine life to match. One of the customers said to me before my trip, “diving on the east coast is as good as anywhere”. How right he was.
We took a comfortable air-conditioned bus provided by the hotel and drove two hours to the Emirate of Fujairah, to a beach town called Khor Fakkan. We connected up with a dive centre down there for the use of their boats and tanks. The dive centre in Khor Fakkan is called Divers Down. Itreminded me of some the typical dive centres you may see on the Spanish coast, basic, but all the right facilities are there, and they make the best hamburgers after the dive.
They have a training centre there and can offer accommodation in a hotel or a youth hostel, so it makes an affordable diving experience and I would recommend it for dive clubs or groups wanting an affordable holiday in the Emirates to experience the beautiful diving of the Indian Ocean without paying the high prices charged by say the Seychells or Maldives. The only disadvantage is that that is all there is in that area, and you will miss the excitement and variety of Dubai.
The water at this time of year is a pleasant 29°C average, with some colder thermo clines to 25°C. In the summer (June-September) the water temperatures reach to over 30°C. In the winter it drops to 19°C so you’ll need a thicker wetsuit. The backdrop to the ocean is the arid volcanic mountains that stretch across the Emirates to Oman. One would never guess the colour and life that goes on underwater…
The first dive site was called Martini Rock. It’s a series of rock mounds layered in pink and red soft coral, sea pens, hard coral and I couldn’t count the shoals of small fish on the mound. The visibility was about 10-15 metres, with a sandy bottom, where we found cuttle fish, scorpion fish, gobies, sea pens, feather stars. In the rocky mounds amongst the corals were at least 100 different species of fish, including a fantastic sea horse (see picture). There were moray eels, snapper, parrot fish, trunk fish, and all the typical small reef fish milling about. The best part of the dive was at about 10m depth, where the coral just mounted up and wafted in the current, such beautiful colours and you could stay there for hours.
The second dive was at Car Cemetery, which is literally what it is, sunken coral encrusted cars with a great opportunity for macro photography. However, not so macro when a very large loggerhead turtle swam in front of us! I have noticed that the nudibranch population in the Emirates is enormous and the species are the most beautiful I have seen, even beating my ever loved Maldives species. Up to now in the six dives I have done in Emirates I have seen six species of nudibranch. Whether they are all variations of the same I am not sure yet but certainly variety is there. It seems to be mating season and there were nudibranch eggs everywhere, which look like pink roses.
After the dive we returned to the dive centre. The boats are moored off the beach, and you have to wade through the shallow water with your gear and walk up the beach. I had the same experience in the Seychelles, so this was not new to me. The instructors were helpful though in assisting to get your gear back to the dive centre. The burgers were waiting for us and my head was buzzing with all the fish that I had seen.
We drove back to Dubai, and were back by five-thirty in the afternoon. It was one of the most pleasant day trips I have experienced and it is certainly a must-do if you want to get out of the city and experience some of the rural Emirates. Hope to see you here!
Read more on http://www.divasindubai.com
Written by Sara-Lisa Haith, United Arab Emirates.