Saudi diver turns her passion into full-time career

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Although the sea is unpredictable and sometimes dangerous, Yasminah Basha likes to ‘be adventurous while taking safety precautions, and to be close to predator fish without provoking them.’ (Supplied)
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Although the sea is unpredictable and sometimes dangerous, Yasminah Basha likes to ‘be adventurous while taking safety precautions, and to be close to predator fish without provoking them.’ (Supplied)
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Although the sea is unpredictable and sometimes dangerous, Yasminah Basha likes to ‘be adventurous while taking safety precautions, and to be close to predator fish without provoking them.’ (Supplied)
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Updated 23 January 2020

Saudi diver turns her passion into full-time career

  • The number of divers and trainers from both genders has increased significantly in the past five years, says Basha

JEDDAH: “I’ve probably lived undersea more than on earth,” said young Saudi diver Yasminah Basha, who has turned her favorite hobby into a full-time career.

Formerly an accountant, Basha is a certified professional trainer with two international diving licenses, from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) and Scuba Schools International (SSI).

“Three years ago, I started training women of almost all nationalities — Arabs, Asians and Europeans as young as 10 and as old as 59. In fact, I trained many women in their 50s, provided that they didn’t have any health problems,” she said.

Basha attributes her passion for diving to her late father, who was a sailor. “We grew up around the sea all the time,” she said. “Eight years ago, I was intrigued to explore the wonders of the aquatic world, until one day I tried scuba diving — I was mesmerized and addicted since then. I took many courses and seized every opportunity.”

Although diving used to be rare among the conservative Saudi society, the number of divers and trainers from both genders has “increased significantly” in the past five years, said Basha.

Aside from the fact that women wearing diving suits was “socially frowned upon,” her parents were also against diving as they thought it was a “dangerous hobby.”




Yasminah Basha

However, “women nowadays practice all kinds of sports freely without facing past challenges,” she said.

Basha added that the cost of training courses ranges from SR600 ($160) to SR2,000, with a duration of three to seven days maximum depending on the trainer’s efficiency.

She said Jeddah’s private resort Bhadur is the most popular as it is fully equipped for shore diving.

Compared to other less-visited resorts, Bhadur offers safe access to the Red Sea’s biodiversity with unparalleled coral reefs.

To reach more colorful and secluded dive sites, Basha said, boat diving is ideal. But all safety procedures must be followed, such as “knowing divers’ health conditions, locating the closest health center, and having at least one health specialist on board,” she added.

Coastguards, she said, must also be informed about details of the trip in terms of duration and names of the staff and crew.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Formerly an accountant, Yasminah Basha is a certified professional trainer with two international diving licenses.

• Basha attributes her passion for diving to her late father, who was a sailor.

• Women nowadays practice all kinds of sports freely without facing past challenges, she says.

Although the sea is unpredictable and sometimes dangerous, Basha said: “I like to be adventurous while taking safety precautions, and to be close to predator fish without provoking them, because they’re defensive, not offensive creatures.”

She added: “I’m also very familiar with marine species that differ from winter to summer, and from day to night.”

As for the most suitable time for professional and beginner divers, “every day of the year is a great day to dive for those who like to dive all the time, like me,” she said. For recreational divers, “summer season and holidays are usually ideal.”

Basha has recently been taking technical diving courses that entail greater risk due to the involvement of more gas tanks, accelerated decompression stops and deeper dives of 60 meters for longer periods. “It’s totally different and more advanced than other courses, and soon I’ll be able to train it,” she said.

The ambitious trainer plans to dive deeper into the business by taking more courses in the future.

“I’m very passionate about diving and am planning to dive 100 meters deep. I wish to train international instructors soon and have a diving center of my own,” she said.


Two Holy Mosques in Saudi Arabia ready to confront health epidemics

Updated 28 February 2020

Two Holy Mosques in Saudi Arabia ready to confront health epidemics

  • The Kingdom has gained experience in dealing with millions of peoples, says crowd expert

MAKKAH: The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques has announced its readiness to deal with any epidemic cases. It said that it will provide all necessary information to pilgrims and has doubled cleaning times of the courtyards and corridors of the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

The presidency said that it is raising media awareness in all languages and through informative screens to distribute the latest medical instructions and emergency developments.

Abdulhamid Al-Maliki, assistant undersecretary for services affairs at the presidency, told Arab News that the Two Holy Mosques are collaborating with public health authorities to face all possible situations.

Al-Maliki said that he has been working hand-in-hand with governmental and private agencies to distribute masks and hand sanitizer.

FASTFACTS

Nearly 7 million Umrah pilgrims visit the Kingdom each year, the majority of whom arrive at airports in Jeddah and Madinah.

Since the new coronavirus emerged in December in central China, it has sickened 82,000 people globally, with more than 2,700 deaths.

He added that coordination has been made with public health-related bodies to mobilize the necessary media coverage to inform all pilgrims of different nationalities wherever they may be.

The assistant undersecretary said that responding to all instructions and advice is necessary for the best handling of health issues.

Crowd expert Akram Jan said that Saudi Arabia has gained experience in dealing with crowds and millions of people, and that it was prepared to handle several sudden scenarios as well as the most difficult situations with success.

Jan said that the difficulties that accompany the presence of viruses — such as the new coronavirus — are their ability to spread and infect through contact or sneezing. He added that the Kingdom is taking precautionary measures to prevent a disaster from happening.

 

Disinfection

The floors of Makkah’s Grand Mosque are washed and disinfected four times daily as part of measures to ensure the safety of pilgrims and visitors.

Highly qualified cadres use the best technology and cleaning and sanitizing tools, said Jaber Widaani, director of the mosque’s department of disinfection and carpets. 

There are 13,500 prayer rugs at the mosque, all of which are swept and fragranced on a daily basis, he added.

Since the new coronavirus emerged in December 2019 in central China, it has sickened 82,000 people globally, with more than 2,700 deaths. The illness it causes was named COVID-19, a reference to its origin late last year.

Middle East countries have been implementing measures to protect their citizens and residents from the rising coronavirus cases.

On Thursday, Dubai’s Emirates announced a temporary ban on carrying Umrah pilgrims and tourists from nearly two dozen countries to Saudi Arabia.

The announcement came after the Kingdom placed a temporary ban on pilgrims from entering the country to perform Umrah, in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Nearly 7 million Umrah pilgrims visit the Kingdom each year, the majority of whom arrive at airports in Jeddah and Madinah.