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Green Team
how Green Is Your Team?
supporting the local
community and promoting
eco-friendly tourism is
just as important for the
environment as clean-
ups and coral surveys,
according to the owners
of a dahab-based diving
centre. BluE meets Eu
sustainable tourism grant
recipients desert divers.
Growing up in deep in the sinai desert, Bedouin dive centre owner set up to manage grants that help protect the cultural and natural
said khedr, 5, has developed a special relationship with the nature resources of the region and better the living conditions of local
of the area above and below the water. It was more than 15 years communities, particularly Bedouin.
ago when he ventured from his desert home to become dahab’s
first Bedouin to learn to scuba dive. he remembers the area was little
‘dahab gave me something, so I wanted to give something back,’ says
more than a palm covered desert beach fringing red sea reefs in
said. ‘I wanted to work with the whole environment: mountain, desert
those days.
and sea.’
Although much has changed considerably in dahab for said – now an
In seven years desert divers has developed a number of tours that
owner of one of the town’s main diving centres and a father of three
incorporate desert excursions, camel diving trips and more recently
– his passion for the environment around him has never wavered.
rock climbing. With the grant, the centre has been able to expand
As a result, his centre desert divers has always been highly active in
this further. All of its excursions are organised together with the
environmental initiatives both underwater and topside.
communities within dahab, which said says not only educates visitors
about the environment but also ensures the ecosystems and culture
With the support of the local community and guests, desert divers are better protected.
organises a number of desert and reef clean-ups each year. Following
a mass clean-up from the Blue hole to ras Abu Galoum – a popular
The grant has been used to fund marketing for eco-tourism and buy
diving area that can only be accessed by camel – the centre was
equipment, as well as help to subsidise training courses for Egyptian
presented with a PAdI Project AWArE Award. More than 0 guests
and Bedouin climbing and diving guides
and locals took part in the 2006 event, removing more than 1,500kg ‘The people who find us are more active holiday makers,’ says said.
of rubbish, mostly by camel. ‘They mix diving and desert adventure with a love for dahab, the
desert divers has been organising clean-ups in parts of dahab several
sinai and the Bedouin life. our objective is to expand and promote
times a year since it opened in 2002 and also participates in the
desert divers eco-adventures, in partnership with and for the benefit
worldwide reef check initiative (www.reefcheck.org). said’s team
of Bedouin communities. The project focuses on camel diving safaris,
helps to maintain the number of signs around dive sites that educate
deep desert safaris and rock climbing – all of which bring income to
divers and non-divers about the importance of protecting the marine
Bedouin in remote areas who might otherwise be forced to forsake
environment. Guests are always encouraged to take part in all the
their way of life to make a living.’
events and this approach has attracted a growing band of repeat said’s wife, Tanis, says they keep a track of all salary payments made
visitors to dahab. through the eco-adventures. ‘Within three years a greater amount
desert divers also supports a number of initiatives at helping to
of money will have been paid back into the communities as salaries
promote and protect the unique desert environment and support
than the grant we were awarded by the Eu,’ she says. ‘That is why such
local businesses and Bedouin communities. As a result of its efforts in
initiatives are so important.’
this area, it was awarded an Eu grant in 2006 to promote sustainable Both said and Tanis believe it is vital for the health of the
tourism in the sinai. environment to educate people about the ecosystem and promote
The Eu south sinai regional development Programme (ssrdP) was
less commercialised, more ‘culturally authentic’ excursions in the
20 www.cdws.travel
Issue  october / November 2009
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