Muscat Daily

Birth­day gift

- Oman · Muscat · Russia · Irkutsk

“This is a record for Oman. No other Omani woman has done it be­fore me. We re­searched this and found out that I'm not only the first Omani who has done it but also the first Arab woman to ever dive in lake Baikal,” Laila told Mus­cat Daily, adding that, she had be­come ex­tremely fas­ci­nated with the ge­ol­ogy of lake Baikal while pur­su­ing her higher stud­ies in ap­plied ge­ol­ogy in Rus­sia.

Her dream, how­ever, be­came a re­al­ity on Jan­uary 24, 2019, when she took up her ad­ven­ture of a life­time with ut­most de­ter­mi­na­tion. Terming it as a ‘birth­day gift’ for her­self, Laila dis­closed that she at­tempted it three days af­ter her birth­day, with her best friend, Anna, present there for moral sup­port.

An ode to na­ture

had to pre­pare my­self a few weeks in ad­vance, read­ing up on how to dive in a dry suit, and most im­por­tantly, how to reg­u­late breath­ing in freez­ing wa­ter,” Laila said, adding that it was not just a hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence but also an ode to her love for na­ture.

To take up this ad­ven­ture, Laila hopped on a flight to Irkutsk, a large city west of the lake, from which it was a two-hour car ride to the small div­ing cen­tre that na­ture lovers from all over the world travel to, to ex­pe­ri­ence div­ing in the world’s clear­est lake. There, she re­ceived the nec­es­sary psy­cho­log­i­cal and phys­i­cal preps and a team of divers helped dress her into the spe­cial dry suit de­signed to in­su­late heat and pre­vent wa­ter pen­e­tra­tion, the tem­per­a­ture of the wa­ter be­ing as low as -20 de­grees C.

As she plopped her­self into the ice-cold wa­ters of lake Baikal, she could see this ‘purest wa­ter on earth’ sparkle as she de­scended into it (the lake is 1642m deep at its deep­est point). With no idea what to ex­pect in the icy depths of the lake, she mus­tered the courage to be un­der­wa­ter for around 30 min­utes and then, lo­cal Buryat Shamanic le­gends (which claim

“I dive reg­u­larly in Oman, but for this kind of dive, I

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