The Marine Eco-system and the Corals are considered the most valuable heritage of Egypt; may be even more than the Pharaonic Antiquities. Unfortunately, this unique varied marine life is in constant danger.
Professional divers may break a half to one centimeter of corals per dive; let alone unprofessional divers; whereas the centimeter of corals may need about 30 to 70 years to grow. Besides, Scientists predict that Corals will die out in the next 70 years with the exception of The Red Sea and The Arabic Bay. One of the most recent examples is the death of more than 50 % of The Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Although the recovery rate of the Marine life in the Red Sea is very high as indicated; but it needs much time. That time may be provided by alternative artificial dive sites.
The idea of under-water museums is not new; it is as old as the first ship that sank in the water or the first building that got drifted by the floods to the bottom of sea. Nevertheless, the idea of preserving the marine ecosystem and the corals is the new perspective. This is done by creating new dive sites to lessen the pressure on natural dive sites; one of which is the Statues Museum in Dahab.
This project is completely Egyptian; starting from the idea to the execution, production and artistic and scientific follow up. This idea has been around 15 years ago. It has been able to be executed and brought to the light by the aid of the Head of the Scuba Diving Activating Sector of the Ministry of Tourism/ Dr. Mohamed Atta El Sherbini and under the supervision of The Protected Areas Sector of the Ministry of Environment in South Sinai Governorate represented by the environmental researcher/ Emad EL Aidi, the researcher/ Said Bakr, and the researcher/ Ismail Abd El Azim.
A timeline was created for creation and installment of 7 statues over 3 stages. The statues were executed by the artist/ Hamed Mohamed; assistant lecturer in the Faculty of Arts of Luxor University. Everyone shared in the installment of the statues under water; namely the Bedouins, Dahab’s professional divers, and every sector of the civilian society; in a series of festivals aiming for raising environmental awareness for the civil society and the divers’ society, and also aiming to encourage the diving tourism in Egypt in an environmental frame to preserve our national marine heritage.
The first stage of the museum was started about ten years ago. It consisted of three statues; two chairs, and a table in the form of a donkey that were installed in EL Mashraba dive site. The next stage was executed 3 years later; that included 3 other statues. The first was “Horus”; god of protection for the Pharaohs; installed with an angle looking south as a reference for protecting the bay from the southern enemies “Hexus”. It is installed at 12 meters depth and its height is 2 meters. The second one was “Beth” god of amusement during the Babylon Civilization. It is installed on 18 meters depth. The third was a normal sized elephant made from recycled parts that were treated to fit the marine life. It is installed at 23 to 27 meters depth and its height is 2 meters.
The Third Stage is one statue of modern art. “Betah” god of wisdom for the Pharaohs, it resembles the Oscar Award statue. It was made in the honor of the deep scuba diving champion Ahmed Gabr. The statue is made of 100 pieces of granite cut from Sinai Mountains; installed on top of each other at 22 meters depth.
Best Dive Site
The museum has reached worldwide fame; and the next statues will enhance the goals. Both the international and local opinions are very positive despite some negative feedback.
This museum is now considered one of the top diving destinations worldwide and one of the best tourist attracting sites in the Light House, Dahab, South Sinai. Dahab’s dive centers use this museum to market for diving. It is estimated to have about 50 thousands divers and tourists per year.