Social Media Campaign Kicks Off With A Petition To Save Dahab’s Blue Hole
By Mohamed Aladdin
In the wake of the environmental deterioration of Egypt’s different protectorates, concerned members of Dahab’s community have risen up to the violations committed by tourists at South Sinai’s iconic Blue Hole and taken to social media to express their frustration.
A petition has been issued by the Facebook page “Save the Blue Hole in Dahab“, and in just three days, it has garnered more than 2,000 signatures and is likely to get more. The petition urges the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Tourism, and the Governor of South Sinai to take action and save the well-known diving haven before it is too late.
The issuers of the campaign believe that due to the lack of clear government regulations, landmarks, and tourist attractions all around, beautiful Dahab is paying the price. The Blue Hole and Wadi Gnai in specific are suffering the most.
In the photos shared on the page, one can see snorkeling tourists stepping or sitting on coral reefs, damaging and breaking them. Unfortunately, it takes coral up to ten years to grow back, thus, permanent destruction of the area’s corals is more than likely to happen. In addition, there are different types of corals, some of them are sharp while others are poisonous, which could seriously hurt humans.
“Save the Blue Hole in Dahab” aims to raise awareness to tourists as well as travel companies, urging those who cannot swim to not snorkel in the Blue Hole because of such irreparable damage. Most importantly, the petition seeks to pressure the ministry aiming to save the Blue Hole.
As we spoke with Omar El Shamy, Mirage Divers’ Manager and the guy behind it all, and got to know how it all started. Apparently, it all began in early 2018 when the heads of the National Park of Egypt had a meeting with the Chamber of Diving, Dive Center owners, and diving professionals in Dahab. This meeting was part of a survey to understand the community’s complaints and come up with a plan on how to develop the Blue Hole.
The development plan was expected to be received 11 months later by December 2018, maximum. “They promised us more than once,” El Shamy told us. “November passed, so did December and January, and nothing has changed. They promised to implement some sort of rules and they didn’t!”
The divers’ community had a WhatsApp group under the name ‘Dahab Defenders’ and that’s where El Shamy expressed his frustration and a petition was born. “Through this group, all of this was possible. Yes, I took the initiative and all, but they helped with everything,” he explained.
“We decided not to leave the Blue Hole to be destroyed for another season,” El Shamy said. Dahab Defenders took the lead and they’re just waiting now to hear from the ministry. “We want to reach the minister in person because we’ve had enough!” It’s also worth mentioning that dive centers in Dahab even offered to pay for any expenses if the government isn’t willing to provide funds.
“Save the Blue Hole in Dahab” has also brought attention to other areas in Dahab that are in need of protection. For instance, they have stressed on the illegal fishing of sharks in Dahab’s Ras Abu Galum natural protectorate, which is a punishable offense according to the natural protectorates law, as well as the new mandate halting fishing in the Red Sea.
In a praiseworthy step, the Dahab Defenders have urged locals, as well as tourists, to take pictures documenting environmental violations and send it to them, which will be accordingly posted on the page.