Middle Eastern regions are often on the world stage, and usually, for the wrong reasons, but for divers, the Middle East means one thing: awesome diving!
The stark contrast between the desert landscape and the myriad colors of the underwater world has to be seen to be believed, and as well as epic dive sites throughout the region, you also have the chance to visit iconic spots such as Wadi Rum and the Rose – Red City of Petra in Jordan; Mount Sinai, the Great Pyramids and Luxor in Egypt; and Jerusalem in Israel. Age-old attractions deserve to be seen first-hand, but there are also more modern sights that demand your attention (and can be dipped in!), including the massive aquarium beneath the Atlantis hotel off Dubai, and the brand -new Deep Dive Dubai – at 60m, the deepest dive pool in the world.
DID YOU KNOW? - Wadi Rum has been used by Hollywood for many top movies, including Prometheus, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and The Martian, and the latest version of Dune.
Dive Site Editor’s Top Pick (Mark Evans)
The Middle East is an obvious contender for any ‘best dives’ list, with various countries in the region offering incredible diving opportunities.
The Red Sea
The Red Sea doesn’t really need any introduction to divers, and it truly is one of the best dive sites on the planet. I’ve been over 60 times in the past 25 years and can’t wait to go back. It’s the perfect mix of all types of diving – drift dives, reef dives, wall dives, wreck dives, all served in a veritable soup of sea life.
Many countries offer diving in the Red Sea, and each has its own unique offerings:
Jordan may only have a small stretch of Red Sea coastline, but from Aqaba divers can explore sunken planes (a C-130 military plane and a Tri-Star commercial airliner ), the wreck of the Cedar Pride and the unique Military Museum, which includes several armored vehicles in convoy on the seabed.
Egypt is home to the world’s most famous wreck, the SS Thistlegorm, which with its cargo of war supplies looks like a sunken museum, but in addition to this iconic dive there are myriad other top quality, including the offshore reefs of the Brothers and Daedalous, the steep walls of the Ras Mohammed Marine Park, the caves of St Johns and the wreck cemetery of Abu Nuhas.
Fancy a cuppa? - Mocha is a delicious drink in which coffee and chocolate are mixed. The word ‘mocha’ is actually derived from Mocha, a port in Yemen on the Red Sea.
Sudan is a wild country, and in its relatively pristine waters divers can encounter various species of sharks and explore pristine reefs, as well as dive the remains of Cousteau’s Precontinent II underwater experience and the impressive shipwreck of Umbria – think of the Thistlegorm, but which has hardly been dived.
Like Jordan, Israel has only a very small portion of the Red Sea coastline, but it is the birthplace of Red Sea diving vacation packages. It still has spectacular coral reefs and a handful of shipwrecks, all easily accessible from the coastal city of Eilat.
The Sultanate of Oman is located on the Arabian Peninsula and has a long coastline in the Indian Ocean. The diving here is unique – it doesn’t have the mega-vis of the Red Sea, but the nutrient-rich waters attract whale sharks, manta rays and other pelagic creatures, and there are some fantastic rock formations. hard corals around the protected islands of Daymaniyat.
Did you know? - There is a fantasy novel written in the 2nd century AD in Roman Syria which features explorers flying to the moon, a first encounter with aliens, and the discovery of a continent across the ocean.
Find more inspiration for your dive trips this year in the Ultimate Divers Guide.
The Red Sea in Egypt offers divers a wide variety of corals and tropical fish in many colors and shapes.
The Red Sea has been on the dive radar for a long time. And yet, never in all these years has he ceased