CALL OF THE SEA
Have you ever considered the possibility of scuba diving in Qatar's sea waters? If you love the life under water you should surely investigate this new hobby that you can enjoy right here.
Have you ever considered the possibility of scuba diving in Qatar's sea waters? If you love the life under water you should surely investigate on this new hobby that you can pursue right here.
“Scuba diving takes you to a different world; all of a sudden you are surrounded by fish, and strange sea creatures you've never seen before; the colours look brilliant; the corals and the amazing variety of wildlife are fascinating – beyond anything you can imagine. The way things move and sound underwater are very different from anything you normally experience: the feeling of being weightless is exceptional; it's altogether surreal and exceptional”, says Mohammed Ali Humaid, a passionate scuba diver.
Mohammed Ali Humaid, the Assistant Manager for Qatar Petroleum's Offshore Fields, has been diving for nearly 13 years. Humaid is so dedicated to his hobby, that he is not just a diver but also a scuba diving instructor. As a matter of fact, he's the only Qatari who is certified to be an Open Water Instructor with British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC). “I was deeply inspired by Qatar's history of pearl diving. Growing up in this land surrounded by waters, I developed a natural love for the sea. When I look back at my first open water diving experience, I can just sum it up in one word – awesome!”
“It was like I had developed gills; it felt so natural. I felt like a fish, moving with such freedom under water for the first time. You need to experience it to understand”, he says. With more than 1,200 dives behind him, Humaid is completely hooked to exploring the wonders of the sea and has travelled to several countries just for the pleasure of scuba diving. Naturally, Humaid has several captivating fish tales to tell. “An unforgettable incident occurred while scuba diving here in Qatar. I found myself swimming beside a gigantic whale shark that seemed to have a never-ending body. I could actually feel time go by, as I swam alongside it; it just wouldn't end. It was like standing somewhere and having a long train pass you by. It was an indescribable moment of awe.”
“Then there was the time when I had an unexpected face-to-face encounter with a gigantic hamour. I had strayed into its territory unawares and there it was – staring at me, as if challenging me for encroaching into its space. Initially I moved forward a bit just to tease it, but soon retreated as I didn't want to taunt it,” he relates.
Humaid's intriguing underwater encounters extend far beyond the regional waters. “I remember the time in Bali when I accidently stumbled into the path of a large school of pipe fish. It was an extraordinary moment that I didn't want to spoil; so I stayed perfectly still. It was as if the all fish stopped mid-track too – or mid-water so to speak – trying to figure out whether I was part of the environment or an alien they needed to flee from. As I continued to remain still and motionless, some of the bolder ones actually came right up to me, trying to nibble at me as if to check me out. It was a fantastic moment while it lasted!” he says, adding, “You've got to experience these encounters to understand them.”
Scuba diving is a much enjoyed sport in Qatar and it might come as a surprise to many, to find that there are some good diving areas and quite a few colourful coral reefs here. The northern part of the Qatar Sea has now become the place for the largest whale shark gathering in the world. As for dolphins, you can see quite a few of them in the Dolphin Reef in Dukhan (a restricted diving area).
“Diving in Qatar is quite safe and you will rarely encounter problems with sharks or poisonous fish. There's an incredibly huge variety of underwater life to be explored in this region; from schools of small colourful reef fish to large solitary fish, including playful dolphins and fun, slow turtles. There are also the fascinating ones like the clown fish, nudibranchs, angel fish, lion fish and of course sea horses.”
“I love diving in Qatari waters! You can dive the whole year round, as the temperature does not drop too much. Summer offers fabulous dives in Qatar, although the water can be murky. Winter-diving on the other hand is great, as visibility is better,” sums up Humaid.
With the summer having firmly set in, the call of the sea can be irresistible. The time seems ideal to dive into a ‘cool' hobby. Exploring the Qatari waters should take weekends to a whole new level and completely capture the imagination.
Scuba diving anyone?
Into the Deep in Qatar and the GCC
According to Humaid, “There are two main diving schools in Qatar, that people can choose from: the American school PADI and the British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC).”
“Qatar has both natural and man-made reefs, with land as well as offshore dive sites. The popular ones are the Old Club reef, the M.O. wreck, New Club Reef, the Barge, Inland Sea, Khor Al-Udeid Beach Reef, Bal-hambar Reef etc.
“The Old Club Reef just before Sealine Beach Resort, is the most frequented as it has a large variety of fish, crustaceans and corals. The Khor Al-Udeid Beach Reef has the best coral reef among the non restricted dive sites. Halul Island has the best coral reef you will get to see in Qatar and it is undamaged too; but is a restricted site.
“There are many dive sites in the GCC waters. You will particularly enjoy diving in Oman as dolphins can be seen in their hundreds following tuna. Fujairah in the UAE is also a great spot. The best place for diving is of course Jeddah with its long coast line on the Red Sea. Because the area is so restricted, the dive sites are pristine; the colourful coral reefs and the variety of beautiful fish here are said to be most fascinating.”
Exploring the amazing underwater environment: Humaid travels around the world, for the pleasure of scuba diving.
“I was deeply inspired by Qatar's history of pearl diving. Growing up in this land surrounded by waters, I developed a natural love for the sea. When I look back at my first open water diving experience, I can just sum it up in one word – awesome!” MOHAMMED ALI HUMAID Assistant Manager Qatar Petroleum, Offshore Fields