Life is better under the sea! UAE execs leaving jobs to become scuba divers
Divers flock to the UAE for its spectacular diving sites. (Shutterstock)
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More and more people are giving up successful careers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to take up scuba diving.
Diving is one of the UAE’s most popular past times thanks to the country’s sweeping coastlines and varied underwater landscape and wildlife, but the number of people turning that hobby into a career has risen sharply in the past 12 months, according to Nomad Ocean Adventures in Dibba – one of the region’s top dive centers and one of a handful of centers in the area certified by PADI to run the Instructor Development Course (IDC).
Around 50 people annually take a dive instructor course, with about 20% becoming full time instructors.
In the past 12 months there has been 70-80 people taking the course with 30-40% going on to become instructors.
Overworked burn-outs and people leaving due to unaffordable property prices are the most common people through Nomad’s doors, according to owner Chris Chellapermal.
“People have always used diving as a way to escape - to get some time to themselves and find a little peace away from the hustle and bustle of the city,” he said, “but we have been amazed by the number of people coming to us wanting to do the instructor course so they can change their careers.
“In the past year, about twice as many people have come to us hoping to use diving as a way to change their life completely and they come from all walks of life. We’ve had people who have successful careers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi; bankers, lawyers, accountants have all come through Nomad.
“The reasons are many, some people are being driven out of the city due to increases in rent, some people burn-out, others just want to see more of the world.”
Nicola Lidell, 26, is one UAE resident who quit her high-flying job in favour of a more relaxed life. Nicola, who graduated in Equine Sciences from Oxford Brookes University in the UK, left a successful career in horse racing to take up diving full time and fulfill a lifelong ambition.
“I have always loved diving but a few years ago I would never have considered it as a career,” she said.
“I did my PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water when I was in my teens and went as often as I could, but I went to school and Uni in the UK and never got the opportunity as my studies came first.
“I graduated from Oxford and I think that there is an expectation that people from Oxford will be successful and I was certainly on that path after I graduated and got a job working with a horse trainer at Epsom.
“I grew up in the UAE and came back to further my career. I love horses and animals but the job and the career is one of the most competitive and it wasn’t for me, so I approached Nomad to do my diving instructor training.
“It has enabled me to pursue a long-held passion and begin to establish a life that I always wanted. It will enable me to travel the world, which is a big thing for me. I am not sure what the future holds. I am always learning and will keep learning about diving and gaining more experience.”
“All the courses we do, from Open Water to Technical, are all PADI certified and recognized internationally. That means you can go anywhere in the world and earn money. It’s a life skill that you never lose and can take anywhere,” said Chris, who added that many trained divers are going the extra mile to gain a competitive edge with a technical diving course.
“We are one of the only places in the region to offer the technical diving course and that is definitely becoming more popular among people who want to take their dive education that little further,” added Chris.
Based in Dibba, Oman, Nomad Ocean Adventures is recognized as one of the best places to learn diving in the Middle East. It has 6 qualified diving instructors from 6 countries, speaking 5 different languages.
It offers PADI certified courses from Open Water to Technical Diving and has access over 30 dive sites in the Gulf of Oman.
It offers free nitrox and with re-breathers and tri-mix at cost for technical divers.