Creating future ambassadors of the oceans in UAE !

Michela Colella – PADI Course Director and Operations Manager at Divers Down in UAE – tells us about her ‘School Project’:

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As a PADI Instructor, I know teaching scuba diving is not solely about introducing people to a sport and a lifestyle I love.

Divers love to dive and divers learn to love the environment.

By teaching young people to dive, it is possible to engender in them a passion for the seas and a determination to ensure the reefs and sea-life we treasure survive for generations to come.

Warming oceans, overfishing, and chemical and plastic pollution are placing pressures and challenges on the environment unprecedented in human history.

One estimate suggests by 2050 there will be, by weight, more plastic in the sea than fish.

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Living in the UAE and being part of the team at Divers Down, I have had the great opportunity to introduce young people to scuba diving and also to educate them about the value of conservation.

At Divers Down, I have led a schools’ programme to introduce young people to scuba diving. As part of the programme, we also raised important issues relating to the risks posed by human activity to the environment.

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We have been running weekly Discover Scuba Diving sessions in school swimming pools across Dubai. This great opportunity also gave us the chance to raise awareness of the some of the most pressing environmental challenges to young minds.

 

Me and the team teach children ways to care for oceans and how to reduce human pollution.

We lead children in discussions and then show them evidence – the detritus of modern life that litters the beaches and reefs, not just in the UAE but around the world.

It is hugely rewarding to be with a young student as they take their first breaths underwater. It is equally rewarding to encourage in them the right attitude to create a sustainable world – that is the goal of the schools’ project.

Like all PADI Instructors, we hope to change the direction of our students’ lives for the better.

Introducing children to the natural world can instil in them a lifelong love of the natural world and can help them protect delicate ecosystems for generations to come.

The reaction from the students, and their teachers and parents – awe, respect and wonder — was beyond our expectations.

We know children learn better while having fun. Introducing them to the natural world – exploring delicate aquatic ecosystem – is one of the best ways young people can learn about the threats to the oceans (without them actually realising it).

I am certain that if all children were lucky enough to learn about diving and to fall in love with it and the environment, our world would be a better place.

A big thank you to those Schools who gave me this great opportunity and to an amazing educational system that was open to allowing its students to learn about the fun and adventure of diving, and practical ways to protect our environment.

 

On behalf of PADI, congratulations to the students who enrolled in the project ! 

…. and special thanks Michela and Divers Down’s Team : keep up the good work!

PADI Adaptive Techniques

The PADI Adaptive Techniques program is an incredible way to facilitate Scuba Diving being achieved by all.

Around the world there are plenty of people who would love to get involved with scuba diving, but feel it is not something they would be able to do, either due to physical challenges or learning difficulties.  Thankfully there are now many companies and charities which are striving to prove this belief wrong.  Together with the PADI Adaptive Techniques program there are many who have had broken through barriers and are the proud owners of PADI certification cards.

Recently, staff from the PADI EMEA Office and PADI Members from the UK completed the Deptherapy Education Course followed by the PADI Adaptive Techniques Instructor Course.  Everyone involved found it to be a very rewarding and eye opening course with some stating that it was the best diving course they had ever taken!

Kerrie Eade, PADI Course Director and owner of Ocean Turtle Diving said – “I can honestly say it was the most eye opening course I’ve ever taken – the depth of knowledge and integrity that Richard was able to share was extraordinary, and Terry delivered the course in a way which made it really clear… Brilliantly interactive right from the outset in the classroom session, to the pool and then on to open water.” 

To assist us on the course was Andy Searle, an army veteran who lost both legs during an IED explosion.  Andy’s passion for diving is palatable and his capabilities both in and next to the water are second to none.  Andy has completed his PADI Advanced Open Water Course, a number of PADI Speciality Courses and is on his way to completing his PADI Rescue Course later this year!  Without question – Andy is inspirational and proof that ‘You Can!’

The new way of approaching students, dive sites and delivery of skills was both interesting and, at times, challenging for the Speciality Instructor Candidates.  The more experienced we become as Instructors the more we can become a little ‘stuck in our ways’ and only teach ‘our’ way, rather than finding out the best way the student will learn.

Kerrie Eade stated – “I cannot wait to teach this course myself, to train up other instructors to broaden their perspectives and look at old habits from a totally different angle.”

For more information on this course and how to get involved have a look at padi.com or contact your Regional Manager – Matt Clements matt.clements@padi.com or Emma Hewitt emma.hewitt@padi.com

 

 

The New PADI Dive Shop Locator (Beta) is Live!

The updated PADI Dive Shop Locator is packed with new features that will make your business stand out.

Getting people to learn scuba diving (and continue on after they’re certified) is a team effort, and PADI® is always looking for ways to make Members’ businesses stand out and shine. The Dive Shop Locator (DSL) was created more than a decade ago so new divers could find dive training they could trust.

With the newly redesigned and repackaged PADI.com, it was time for the DSL to get a refresh. As the new PADI DSL Beta is unveiled, PADI Members will see a host of exciting features – all with the goal of making sure their business keeps growing. Here’s a quick FAQ of what you can expect from the new PADI Dive Shop Locator.

What are the key features to the new DSL?

Check out the value and sheer number of these new features of the PADI DSL Beta.

  • Better User Experience – The user journey matches what users expect from a location-based search experience from sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google Maps. This includes cleaner page layouts and information hierarchy, intuitive task flows and visual consistency.
  • Enhanced Map View – Adjustments to the way search looks at geography has improved the look and feel of the visual indicator dive shop flags to clearly indicate the type of dive center shown on the map (g. a PADI 5 Star).
  • Improved Filtering – New filters use more descriptive terminology and intuitive filter groupings.
  • Faster Loading Speed/Performance – The new PADI DSL is a quicker experience regardless of whether your area has high or low bandwidth.
  • More Detailed Dive Shop Pages – Each dive shop has a unique URL and page. This will allow the pages to be “deeplinked,” which helps marketing teams and members share the URL via email and on websites, and allows pages to be indexed by search engines like Google.
  • Better Mobile Experience – The new DSL is a fully mobile friendly and responsive experience.
  • Improved Search – Users will have the ability to search by almost any (reasonable) dive-related phrase to locate a dive shop or location.
  • More Clearly Delineated Ads – Sponsored ads are displayed within the search results list and map, making them more visible to end-users.
  • Filter by Freediving Centers– Individual dive shop pages and filter menu includes the ability to filter by freediving centers.
  • Visibility for PADI 5 Star – Search results show all shops but, list 5 Star Dive Centers and Resorts more prominently.

What is a “Beta” and how will this work?

The Dive Shop Locator is an important tool that divers find and connect with dive centers and resorts. To fully understand how any new design affects this process, the PADI team will make both the current and new design available to users and allow them to switch between each experience and leave feedback. For the next two to three months, the team will monitor interact with each, adjusting each design as needed and sharing the learnings.

How long will the DSL Beta run?

The DSL Beta will initially run for eight to 12 weeks, but will be flexible so that enough data can be collected to make the DSL the best it can be.

The benefits of Certified Assistants to create an enjoyable and safe dive!

On a day to day basis, there’s also little doubt that the efficient use of certified assistants during confined and open water training and experience programs can make diver training and supervision easier and more enjoyable for both participants and instructors. This is especially true for experience programs or entry-level courses when divers can’t be left unattended.

There are many fairly obvious reasons for using certified assistants, such as logistical assistance, improved responsiveness to emergencies, having “extra” sets of eyes and ears for improved in-water control, the ability to increase the number of student divers being supervised, and so on. For the most effective use of them, consider the following, from PADI’s Guide to Teaching:

  • Have enough assistants available and thoroughly brief them about their roles during the dive, including information on site facilities, so they can answer student diver questions. Make sure they know where to find and how to use emergency equipment – first-aid kit, oxygen unit, AED unit, telephone/radio, etc. They should also know where extra equipment is located.
  • Discuss how much assistance and guidance to give student divers before, during and after the dive. Go over the expected order of activities and where they should position themselves in the water.
  • To increase practice time, have certified assistants monitor additional student diver practice.

Don’t forget during the PADI Open Water Diver course, where an instructor’s direct supervision is required, exceptions are made for instructor indirect supervision in the following situations:

  • Certified assistants supervising student divers during surface swims to and from the entry-exit point and during navigational exercises, as well as when remaining with the class when the instructor conducts a skill such as an ascent or descent with a student or student team.
  • Certified assistants guiding student divers (at a ratio of 2:1) on Dives 2-4 when exploring the dive site.
  • Assistant Instructors evaluating dive flexible skills at the surface in open water and conducting air pressure checks underwater.

Besides providing an additional measure to increase control and the safety of divers in your care, and helping to prepare future PADI Instructors, using certified assistants during PADI training programs can increase your students’ enjoyment of the training/supervisory experience and make your own professional life easier.

It’s important to remember however that PADI Standards define a certified assistant as a “Teaching Status PADI Instructor, PADI Assistant Instructor or Active Status PADI Divemaster”. The use of any other divers as assistants would not qualify as “certified assistant” use under PADI Standards. Don’t forget to check your assistant’s credentials!

 

PADI Women’s Dive Day – An Interview with PADI CD Nancy Abd El Wahab

In celebration of PADI Women’s dive day, here is an interview with PADI Course Director Mancy Abd El Wahab, who has been a PADI member since 1994 and a PADI Course Director since 2002.

 

When did you fall in love with the ocean?

As long as I can remember! I always loved the water and spent the summers around lakes and the North Sea coast in Germany. Of course watching documentaries about the ocean, such as ones from Hans Hass, made me curios about the ocean and everything in it. However, what made me really fall in love with the ocean was the first time I went snorkelling as a child in the Mediterranean Sea in Spain. The amazing blue colours of the ocean and being able to see what’s below – that was an unbelievable experience and also where my “love story” with the ocean began.

How did you start diving?

When I was a teenager I was a competitive swimmer and water always felt like a place I wanted to be. Due to my fascination with the underwater world my parents gave me a diving course as a Christmas present at the beginning of the 1990’s. I remember it vividly; it was January and we went to a lake in Germany, the water was 4 degrees cold, there was no visibility and I was wearing a suit that was miles too big for me. Nevertheless, I absolutely loved it and continued learning more about diving until this day.

When did you become a PADI instructor?

I was working as a PADI Divemaster in Dahab in the early 1990’s and gained some experience. After working for one year as a guide it was time to develop and I did my IDC in 1995 in Sharm El Sheikh. It was an intense course and I was very lucky that I had a wonderful and very professional PADI Course Director, who became my mentor for many years after.

Why did you become a PADI Course Director?

Personally, I always like to develop and to learn new things. Working for a long time as an Instructor and living in one of the top spots of the diving industry it was a natural process to continue my education. I was very lucky that I had the chance to work as a Staff Instructor on many IDC’s before I applied for my Course Director Training Course in 2002. Becoming a PADI Course Director was a great dream of mine. It is such a rewarding job teaching people to make a living from diving. It is a high level of training and I love to share the experience I gained over the last 24 years in the diving industry.

 

What would you tell our readers especially women who are interested in diving?

I think nowadays more women are diving and are interested in diving. However, I still see many countries where female divers are an exception because of cultures where it is not common that men and women participate in the same activities. I encourage women from these cultures to look out for professional female Divemasters and Instructors if they are interested in diving. Diving is a fantastic sport where you can meet many different people who have a love for the ocean. But its not only a sport, it’s a life style and divers are very social people. Going on a diving holiday is both seeing amazing things underwater and spending a great time with people who have the same passion. I would suggest for women to find a female mentor – like a Divemaster or Instructor. I taught many women diving and it was great to be their mentor. Many of them became PADI Divemasters or PADI Instructor by themselves and they now carry the passion we share for diving to other women who are just starting to dive.

Why did you choose to work in Egypt as a PADI professional?

The Red Sea is one of the top destinations for diving worldwide. I love the amazing underwater world of the coral reefs of Sinai and the very unique dive sites like Ras Mohamed, the Thistlegorm and the Blue Hole. The weather and water temperature make it possible to dive the whole year around and the mountain range of South Sinai is one of the most beautiful places I ever have seen in my life. I have chosen Egypt as well because of its lovely Egyptian and Bedouin people I work and live with. Especially Dahab is very unique – there is a great community of Egyptians, Bedouins and foreigners that will make you fall in love with this place.

 

Quick wins to target new markets

Easy steps every dive centre can take to attract customers from China

With Chinese tourism making up more than 30% of all visitors to the Maldives, every dive centre benefits from ensuring that these potential customers know about the PADI courses being offered.Did you know that PADI has a dedicated Chinese marketing tool kit especially for you? You can access it free of charge by logging into the PADI Pro Site, and then clicking this link:

http://padi.co/cnkit

There are a huge number of resources available to you.

Each link in the tool box has two options. The option on the left is ‘simplified’ Chinese. The option on the right is ‘traditional’ Chinese.Tourists from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are most likely to speak Traditional Chinese, whilst those from China, Malaysia and Singapore are most likely to speak Simplified Chinese. Depending upon the tourists in your area you may choose to use one or both versions.The more you tools use, the better the results will be. However, if you are short of time, here are a few key steps to take:

  • Exterior signage is a key step to show visitors that you are able to cater to their needs. The marketing tool kit includes a PADI Open Water Diver course poster and banner that you can download – this represents a great starting point.
  • If you work with a hotel or guest house, you can use the specific images to create brochures or hand-outs for guests
  • There are dedicated promotional videos available for you to use on TV screens in your centre, or at welcome events for arriving guests.
  • If you need help employing Chinese instructors, you can advertise jobs on the Chinese PADI Pro Site – simply log into the PADI Pro Site and click the link below:

https://www2.padi.com/mypadi/pros/my-pro-development/jobs/mainpage.aspx

You’ll find the Chinese employment board at the bottom of the screen.

If you need further assistance in accessing the Chinese diver market, contact your regional manager at matt.wenger@padi.com

How to Be an Effective Assistant in Open Water

A certified assistant plays a key role during open water training, especially when weather conditions, equipment issues and other variables make life difficult for students and the instructor.

PADI® Course Director Patrick Hammer from Scuba Emporium in Illinois, USA says, “When an instructor works with a certified assistant, it’s like a pilot and co-pilot. You can fly a plane with one person, but with two people, the flight is smoother and safer.”

Review the tips below to learn more about effective assisting during open water training.

Pre-Class Communication

Prior to class, meet or message with the instructor to discuss equipment needs, skill sequencing, student issues and review the weather forecast.

PADI Course Director Kevin O’Brien from PADI Five Star IDC VIP Diving in Bonaire says, “Work as a team to determine the most efficient way to complete the necessary skills: shallow vs. deep, surface vs. underwater. This is especially important for multi-level training. Also discuss how the tour portion will be conducted.”

Equipment and Safety Preparation

Ensure your equipment is in working order and consider what equipment is needed for students to meet the performance requirements.

“An effective assistant will make sure any specialized equipment required for the dive is ready when needed,” says O’Brien. “For example, when conducting the navigation dive in Advanced Open Water, you need a reel or line to mark off 30 metres/100 feet, and your student divers will need compasses.”

In addition to diving equipment, be sure to pack a dive roster slate to check divers in and out of the water. Bring the appropriate course slates to ensure you’re aware of skill depth requirements and refer to the list of common student problems in the appendix of PADI’s Guide to Teaching.

Topside

Arrive early and set up your gear before students arrive. “Many of our training dives start early in the morning when the weather is still cool. It’s important for staff to arrive early and get setup so they can help students. That way no one stands around getting cold,” says Hammer.

Try to be one or two steps ahead of the instructor to ensure the class can efficiently transition from one activity to the next. “A good certified assistant should be a thinker, someone who can anticipate class needs without the instructor having to ask,” Hammer says. “For example, while I’m working with students, the certified assistant can be getting equipment set up or setting the float.”

Underwater
Keep students together as much as possible and make sure the instructor knows where you are at all times. If a student unexpectedly separates from the group, take action to ensure the diver’s safety while simultaneously alerting the instructor using a noisemaker or other signal.

“A good certified assistant can corral the class and make sure everyone stays close, keeping an eye on the students I’m not working with and keep them from drifting away,” said Hammer.

The importance of global awareness cannot be understated. A good assistant keeps one eye on the instructor and one eye on the students at all times. If you find yourself working directly with a student, regularly look around to see what the other divers are doing. While you’re checking one diver’s air, their buddy could be drifting rapidly to the surface.

A good assistant also keeps students focused on training. Wait until skill time is done to point out marine life and show off your bubble ring skills.

We hope you learned something from this list of tips. Feel free to add additional tips and suggestions in the comments.

Have a read of our previous blog about how to be an effective assistant in confined water!

 

PADI Women’s Dive Day – An Interview with Chris Azab

 

As PADI Women’s Dive Day is getting ever closer, we will be interviewing some leading figures in the diving industry in Egypt.

Chris Azab is a PADI Course Director, who has been a PADI member since 2001 and a PADI Course Director since 2009.

When did you fall in love with the ocean?

When I was a child, after school time, I always went to the beach to play and swim in the sea (I was living in Holland, nearby the North Sea). In 1992 it was the first time to visit Sharm el Sheikh and the Red Sea and I felt in love with it when I was snorkelling in Naáma Bay and Sharks Bay. The beautiful colours of the Coral, the beautiful colours of the fish. Each year I went back to the Red Sea.

How did you start diving?

After snorkelling in the Red Sea I wanted to see and learn more. I had a chance to do a DSD in Holland and I continued and followed all the courses from the PADI Ladder.

When did you become a PADI instructor?

In 2001 I became a PADI Instructor and was teaching for hobby. I started a Dive Club in Holland and in one year I had 75 members and all the time happy faces. We did dives in the cold waters of the Grevelingen and the Oosterschelde. You can see all different kind of fish and a lot of crabs and lobsters. I wanted to be underwater all the weekends. In 2004 I had the change to change my life and start living, diving and teaching in Sharm el Sheikh – Egypt. I followed my dream and my passion about diving and made from my hobby my fulltime job and I’m still loving it.

Why did you become a PADI Course Director?

Even when I was fulltime working in the Diving Industry in Egypt, I loved to do each year some courses myself and in 2009 I had the chance to do the Course Director Training Course as the next step in my carrier. I love to teach different courses and like to bring divers to a higher level. Now I’m teaching IDC’s and all different Instructor Specialties in different countries, in Sharm el Sheikh by 5* IDC Center Sinai Dive Club, in Holland by 5* IDC Center Divepost and 5* IDC Center Souldivers and in Cyprus by 5* IDC Center Cydive. It’s not the only thing I do. I teach all TEC Courses which I prefer to do in Sharm. From the shore you can easily dive to 65 meter. Sidemount diving is one of my favourites. It’s also amazing to teach the new Adaptive Support and Adaptive Techniques Diver Specialty, which I have planned again in September in Sharm el Sheikh.

 

What would you tell our readers especially women who are interested in diving?

Ladies, I still dive for fun. Last week I was on a diving Holliday in Tenerife by PADI Dive Center Ola Diving. The Atlantic Ocean surprised me as well. We saw Dolphins, Turtles, schools of Barracuda’s and Triggerfish, Morays, Bullrays etc. etc. So ladies, go diving and start today!!! It will change your life. You will become part of a different world, will see beautiful creations. Diving transforms you to another human, it’s a challenge, it’s relaxation and it’s amazing to be underwater. It doesn’t matter if you dive in cold water or warm water, it’s the feeling of freedom. Come and visit the Red Sea, it’s a great and safe place to be. Just be careful, you can become addicted to diving and the Red Sea like I did.

Why did you chose to work in Egypt as a PADI professional?

Since I started diving I went to different diving destinations, not only to the Red Sea. As you can read above, I felt in love with the Red Sea, the National Park of Ras Mohammed, the Reefs by Tiran Island, it’s amazing because every day, every dive it’s different. There are also lots of beautiful local Dive sites. That’s why I wanted to work in Sharm el Sheikh, I did and it became my home. Nowadays I’m not only working in Egypt, anyway I can tell you, once a Sharmer, always a Sharmer.

PADI Power!

Are you getting the most from your PADI marketing power?

The PADI logo is the most distinctive and powerful logo in the diving industry. Recognised as a sign of quality diver training and service, divers around the planet proudly state that they have ‘got my PADI’.

As a PADI dive centre, a key benefit of your membership is the right to utilise the power of the PADI brand to bring more custom to your dive centre – here are some suggestions on how to make sure you are doing this effectively:

  1. Use your PADI Dive Centre Marketing kit to its full effect. Every renewed PADI dive centre receives a physical marketing tool kit which includes flags, banner and other marketing collateral completely free of charge. Maldivian dive centres can get their tool kits through MA Services, the official PADI material distributor in the Maldives. If you have not yet received your pack, make sure you contact them directly to arrange collection.
  2. Use your digital resources – make sure your website shows the PADI logo – you can download a range of logos by logging into the PADI Pro Site and clicking the following link: https://www2.padi.com/mypadi/templates/cb-login.aspx?id=2782
  3. Also make sure you are using the latest images and text to boost your website’s impact! All dive centres in the Maldives have been sent an email providing them with a digital marketing tool kit that includes pictures, videos and text for you to use on social media and websites. If you have not accessed this yet, contact matt.wenger@padi.com for more information

If you want more information on how to effectively boost your marketing, and drive more custom to your centre, join us at a PADI Business Academy! Next event is scheduled in September in Male.

 

 

A New Home for PADI in the Maldives!

We are delighted to officially announce that PADI has a new home in Male’!

Last month, MA Services, the official PADI distributor in the Maldives, opened a spacious new retail outlet on Male’ Square, the latest shopping and dining destination in the capital.

As part of the move, the PADI store also relocated and is now open during regular shopping hours, welcoming divers and shoppers until 10pm.

Although we know that many of you have already visited the new store, which is just off Majeedhee Magu, we invite all of you who haven’t popped in yet to drop by and say hello! With our extended opening hours, we hope that many more of you will now have the opportunity to do so.

Alongside all PADI merchandise and services, the store will be home to a wide range of products stocked by MA Services. As the official distributor of PADI, Bauer Kompressoren, Scubapro, UWATEC, Hatz and Analox, the store is a one-stop-shop for all your diving needs and will offer customers a more streamlined approach to placing orders and purchasing new equipment.

The MA Services service centre remains in the same location and will continue to provide all the same facilities as previously.

We look forward to welcoming you soon!

PADI