Making History - SSI Hosts the 1st Ever CCR Course in AqabaJune 13, 2022
Closed-circuit rebreather (CCR) diving in Jordan became officially legal in 2022. SSI has celebrated this milestone by hosting the first-ever CCR course in Aqaba; a rEVO/SSI course hosted by our Area Manager Elie S. Kmeid and Sinai Divers Aqaba. Together, they tackled the challenges of providing a rebreather course in a brand-new CCR diving market with no local equipment. They overcame many logistical hurdles and discovered what makes rebreather diving in Aqaba so special.
We at SSI are proud to be a part of this piece of Aqaba’s history! Dive in and find out more about this momentous occasion with Elie and Sinai Divers Aqaba.
Why was rebreather diving not allowed in Jordan?
Elie: The story of rebreather diving in Aqaba was for me a long one. It all started when I visited Aqaba for the first time in 2013 as an SSI Service Center manager for the area.
When I asked why we are not allowed to dive with a rebreather in Aqaba, I always got the same answer: it is forbidden by the government for security reasons.
For me, it did not make any sense since rebreathers have come a long way into sports diving and are becoming more and more mainstream.
How did you help introduce rebreather diving in Aqaba?
Elie: Every time I visited the area, I met new people and I have always asked what can be done to introduce CCR diving in Aqaba.
They all promised to ask about it and try to explain to the government that this would be a huge boost to the diving tourism market, which is the lifeline of Aqaba.
Mr Rajae Joury, who is the owner of Sinai Divers Aqaba, understood the potential of this sector in the diving market and started digging further.
It was thanks to his inquiries and efforts that we have been able to open up rebreather diving in Aqaba! CCR diving in Aqaba became officially legal in 2022. As we always say, better late than never.
That is an incredible achievement. What did you do next?
Elie: Next thing we did was to celebrate this milestone by ensuring the first-ever CCR course to take place in Aqaba would be a rEvo/SSI course.
Once we started talking publicly about it, we got so much attention and numerous requests.
Unfortunately, due to the strict instructor to student ratio, I could only train so many students at a time - with the promise to return to Aqaba for more courses in the future.
What were the challenges of conducting the first-ever CCR course in Aqaba?
Elie: We started organizing the logistics for the course with Sinai Divers Aqaba, which took a lot of effort and preparation.
Since this is a new market and the students/diving center did not have rEvo units or tanks, we had to ship everything from Lebanon. We shipped rEvo rebreathers, tanks, and sofnolime for the course.
Getting them out of Lebanon to Aqaba and then back to Lebanon proved to be challenging in light of customs on both sides. They needed assurance that these goods were personal items and only going temporarily to Aqaba for the duration of the course.
We had to change the course date three times because of delays in paperwork and customs clearance, but everything worked out fine in the end.
Once you overcame those hurdles, how did the course go?
Elie: Once we got there for the course everything ran smoothly. The course went through without a hiccup, and we were able to conduct multiple dives on the CCR in the clear waters of Aqaba.
We stayed on a Sinai Divers Aqaba boat for the duration of the course, which was a large safari boat with bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen and everything. It was literally a floating hotel!
We got to the dive sites early in the morning before other divers were there and the silence and serenity were amazing.
What do you love about diving in Aqaba?
Sinai Divers Aqaba: Diving in Aqaba is easy, and you are diving on unspoiled dive sites. There are around 25 dive sites along the 30 kilometers of coastline, which offer a variety of different dives.
There are coral gardens, pinnacles, sunken airplanes, an underwater military museum, and the famous Cedar Pride wreck to explore. This wreck is completely covered with soft corals, red sponges and leather corals.
With a maximum depth of 30 meters, no currents, beautiful and intact reefs, plus calm seas, Aqaba is the perfect destination for new and experienced divers alike.
What can you see underwater in Aqaba?
Sinai Divers Aqaba: We do not tend to have large fish in Jordan, but we have an abundance of smaller fish. That combined with the lack of currents and crystal-clear water makes underwater photography very popular here.
With no bubbles created, photographers can get closer to subjects and produce truly stunning photographs.
What makes Sinai Divers Aqaba special?
Elie: I had many problems with my rEvo unit, but Sinai Divers’ staff were able to solve and repair every one of them. They were equipped with all the tools necessary to address any situation with the CCR.
That is the beauty of the rEvo as well. It is so sophisticated yet so simple, where any problem can be addressed on the dive site if you know what you are doing.
The staff were very professional and catered for all of our needs, including overnight oxygen fills for our oxygen cylinders and sofnolime refills.
For us, living on the boat while conducting the course was incredibly convenient. The vessel even has a compressor, so our Diluent tanks were filled on the spot between dives while we had lunch anchored on the dive site.
Sinai Divers Aqaba: The Sinai Divers Aqaba Training Center is located directly on the beach of the 5-star Mövenpick Resort Tala Bay.
Our center was built according to the highest standards and is equipped with the latest diving equipment. The counter, classrooms, office, guest equipment room, workshop, shower, sportswear and dive shop are all handily located here.
We have many options for divers; from beach diving and speedboat diving to spending the day on our purpose-built, fully equipped 25m yacht.
Elie, would you recommend diving in Aqaba?
Elie: Yes! I am looking forward to going back - whether to do more courses, more fun dives with friends, or explore the deeper waters of Aqaba using my rEvo now that this diving paradise is open to all CCR divers.
I recommend everyone heading there for CCR diving to contact Sinai Divers Aqaba since they are now equipped to support CCR, whatever unit they are diving with!