We celebrated our twentieth birthday in 2006. Established in 1986, we are one of the few dive centres in Sharm el Sheikh that still operates from an original location in the centre of Naama Bay.
Naama Bay was 'discovered' by diving pioneers in the 1970s. It became known for its sheltered sandy bay and the pristine coral reefs surrounding it. Some of the diving pioneers stayed on, and established dive centres along the beach. The few divers who visited on vacation were also pioneers of a sort, since facilities at that time were very basic. Little fresh food was available, with meals mostly consisting of fish - grilled, fried, baked - followed by more fish! Even by the mid-1980s, what is now the lively holiday resort of Naama Bay was little more than a stretch of sand. Along with the dive centres, the area's only tourist facilities were two hotels. The Marina Sharm hotel had been constructed in the 1970s. The Moevenpick Jolie Ville resort on the beach front was newly built.
The idea for Camel Dive Club began when its founder, Hesham Gabr, visited Naama Bay with friends in the early 1980s. Inspired by the lifestyle of Sinai's diving pioneers, the project culminated with the opening of Camel Dive Club, in 1986. Camel Dive Club consisted of a modest one-storey stone building with palm-thatched courtyard (the diving centre), some straw huts (the 'hotel'), a water tank, and a compressor.
Most diving in Sharm el Sheikh in the 1980s took place from the shore, either on foot or by jeep. The coastline was almost totally undeveloped. Dive sites like Ras Nusrani, White Knight and Tower, now the location of luxury resorts, were popular shore dives.
The intervening two decades have seen huge changes. Sharm el Sheikh has developed sophisticated tourist facilities, daily charter flights, and a choice of luxury hotels stretching for nearly 30 km. Naama Bay is the focus of tourist activity, with a wide range of shops, and restaurants serving food from around the world. The days of nothing to eat but fish, are long gone.
Although the growth of tourism has inevitably left its mark on the environment, Sharm el Sheikh is fortunate that its scuba diving has remained world-class. Very few dive locations are so close to Europe, yet offer warm water, year-round sunshine, abundant marine life and a huge variety of easily accessible dive sites, from 800m drop offs to sandy plateaus to wrecks.
Camel Dive Club has grown up over the last 20 years too. It is now a PADI five-star Instructor Development Dive Resort and TDI technical diving facility (the original stone walls of the diving centre remain). The 4* Camel Hotel replaces the straw hut accommodation, along with two restaurants, a café, and two bars. Camel Dive Club & Hotel is now located in the heart of Na'ama Bay's pedestrian area.
According to Hesham Gabr, Chairman and founder of Camel Dive Club, "Sharm el Sheikh, and Camel Dive Club, have changed enormously over the last 20 years. But Camel's philosophy is still the same. As divers ourselves, we have always focused on providing what divers want - top-quality facilities, friendly dive guides, and fantastic diving".
We were trundling along on a pleasant dive on one of the reefs near Sharm El Sheikh in the Red Sea when the manta glided up from the depths. At…
Chalk-white hotels, bustling restaurants and lively nightclubs: from the promenade at Naama Bay, it’s almost hard to imagine this was once a desolate stretch of coastal desert. We’re not talking…
Tot veertig jaar geleden was Sharm el Sheikh slechts een klein vissersdorpje. Moeilijk voor te stellen als je de bruisende badplaats van tegenwoordig ziet. Maar het is niet voor niets…