Unless you’ve been living in a cave or in a coma for several years you will be aware of the social, economic and political upheavals that Egypt has gone through over the last 4 years. Even though this year’s presidential elections went smoothly and there is a greater feeling of stability and calm in much of the country the future is by no means clear and certain areas of the country (particularly Northern Sinai) remain lawless out of bounds to all outsiders except the military and those with criminal or suicidal tendencies.
Sensationalist headlines such as; “The lawless Sinai” and, “Sinai is the New Afghanistan!” make the whole Sinai Peninsula sound like some particularly unpleasant corner of hell. How many of you have said “maybe I’ll visit Egypt?” only to bombarded by people telling you that “it’s too dangerous” and “are you crazy?”
So are those of us who live here in Dahab (South Sinai) cowering behind barricades’ wearing flak jackets and tin hats? Well, I can’t speak for everyone ( maybe one particularly paranoid resident is cowering in their cellar somewhere) but personally I am sat at my work computer, looking out to Saudi Arabia 20 kms or so across the Gulf of Aqaba and it’s a perfect, beautiful, warm sunny autumn day. A few windsurfer s are enjoying Dahab’s perfect sailing winds; a group of freedivers are bobbing around on the surface 100 meters off shore, enjoying Dahab’s exceptional freediving conditions; a young foreign resident strolls by with a her two young children (one in a pushchair) and all I can hear is the waves, some laughter from next door and The Cure (from my music collection!) while I wait for our 3 Advanced Open Water students to arrive to explore Dahab’s vibrant reefs and marine life (we’ll go to the ‘The Islands’ today I think)
Quite an idyllic scene, far removed from what the media would have you believe. Seems perfect doesn’t it? Except that since I wrote about the lady walking by with her kids, not one single other person has walked by and this is Dahab’s ‘high’ season (it should be pointed out at this juncture that I type with 2 fingers and make many mistakes, so this is quite a long period of time!)
Costs are rising, visitors are decreasing and some operators are slashing (already low) prices to grab some of the diminished pie. A few good dive centres are continuing to resist the pressure to dump prices so they can maintain good equipment, small groups and high standards for those who appreciate them, but market forces are against us. ‘No profit’ and ‘high quality’ make for a very bad relationship and they don’t stay together too long.
Things are unlikely to get much busier until foreign governments change their travel advice and the media learn to distinguish between ‘north’ and ‘south’ (strange, they can do this with Korea, Sudan and Ireland) In the meantime, those of us who live here in South Sinai hope we can see through this lean period and still be here to offer quality Scuba diving to those who want it.
In conclusion, is Dahab safe? Well, we don’t have our heads stuck in the desert sands that surround our little oasis and bad things can happen, but as one customer phrased it “Dahab is as safe as international terrorism will allow anywhere to be” … pretty much covers it!
Wish You Were Here!
Manager of Sea Dancer. He likes loud music, scrabble and making sure the dive equipment is in perfect condition.