With an astonishing loot of underwater attractions to explore and improved access to famous
dive sites, this is the perfect time to dive into the waters of the Middle East. Here are the best
dive sites in the region, from famous reclaimed sites to emerging destinations.
Dive in the Red Sea
Famous for its incredible diversity, excellent visibility – 30 m or more than average – and the
the resilience of its coral in the face of rising sea temperatures, the Red Sea is the most popular
dive destination in the Middle East, and for good reason.
With tourism still picking up in Egypt’s South Sinai dive sites (and with the UK calling for
direct flights to Sharm El Sheikh to be restored), it’s a good time to avoid crowds at big
resorts like Sharm El Sheikh, which offers the best access to the Thistlegorm, a sunken
World War II freighter considered one of the most famous sunken diving ships in the world;
and Ras Mohammed National Park, with its superb wall diving.
Popular thanks to its Blue Hole, Dahab, more bohemian and 100 km north of Sharm El
Sheikh makes a strong return to the diving scene. However, many divers say that the best
diving in Egypt is near the resort of Marsa Alam, the starting point for excursions to
Elphinstone Reef, where more experienced divers can spot oceanic whitetip and hammerhead
sharks. One of the best operators in the region is Red Sea Diving Safari.
Not many pelagic species are seen in the extreme north of the Red Sea, the reefs near Eilat,
in Israel and Aqaba, in Jordan, show clear signs of recovery after increased protection
measures promoted by both countries in recent years.
In Eilat, there are a couple of sunken vessels for diving ( Aqua Sport International organizes
dives in them), but the best are near Aqaba, in particular the Cedar Pride, a Lebanese
freighter that, in 1985, was deliberately sunk as an artificial reef. by order of King Abdullah
II, promoter of the Jordanian diving industry. One of the most reputable operators in the city
is Dive Aqaba.
Possibly the hottest destination on the Red Sea right now is Saudi Arabia. Offering diving
along the western coast of the country, almost unexplored is more accessible than ever (and
also, there is currently no prohibition that prevents men and women together buceen).
The tourist visas to Saudi Arabia have recently been activated and visitors will find a number
of clubs official diving at resorts in Jeddah and Yanbu, with large enclaves submariners
including Boiler Wreck near Jeddah, with its coral huge fan and stingrays (a good operator is
Desert Sea Divers ), and Seven Sisters, an area where hammerhead sharks live and best
explored with a Dream Diver dive cruise.
Best time to dive in the Red Sea
You can dive all year round, although the best time to see whitetip sharks is between October
and January, while hammerhead sharks are seen between June and September. Whale shark
season runs from May to July.
Dive in the Persian Gulf
The urban development of the coastline, the lack of coral, and the consequences of oil
extraction in the states of the Persian Gulf coast does not make this area the best diving
destination in the world, but the region has several interesting shipwrecks.
Among the pile of sunken ships on the outskirts of the port of Dubai, most divers stand out
the Zaineb, the MV Ludwig and the MV Dara – a passenger ship that, in 1961, suffered the
second-largest maritime disaster in the world after the Titanic, with an explosion that sank it
– among the best. They can be visited with Al Boom Diving.
Off the southern coast of Iran, the island of Kish is one of the region’s emerging dive
destinations, with interesting sites including Southern Crack, a coral reef inhabited by moray
eels, and Sambaron, famous for its colorful coral. The veteran Kish Diving Center offers
dives in the area, but men and women are required to dive separately.
Best time to dive in the Persian Gulf
You can dive all year round, but to enjoy maximum comfort and visibility, both under the sea
and on the surface, it is advisable to avoid the peak months of summer and winter.
Dive in the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea
Fujairah, the only UAE emirate that only has a coastline on the Gulf of Oman, has more
marine life in its dive sites than the Gulf Emirates (Al Boom has a dive center in Al Aqah ),
and after announcing its plans in 2018 to build the world's largest artificial reef of its
shores seem destined to become the most exciting diving destination in the region.
Although it is possible to dive from a traditional dhow in the rich waters of Musandam (it is a
good idea to book with Al Marsa in Dibba), in Oman, the most popular diving area in the
The Persian Gulf is Muscat. The Daymaniyat Islands, a major hawksbill breeding area near
Muscat, are one of the favorite spots for divers. Another enclave accessible from the capital is
Al Fahal Island, popular for its mobula mantas, blacktip sharks and a vessel, the 84 m long Al
Monastir , sunk by the Omani navy in Bandar Khayran in 2003 and which attracts colorful
nudibranchs, a type of sea slug.
Further south, Mirbat, a city on the coast of the Arabian Sea, is one of the few places in the
world where you can see coral and seaweed gardens (at least, in the summer months). But the
area is famous for the 22 species of dolphins and whales that live in it; between January and
April there is even the possibility of diving with an orca. Extra Divers has dive centers in
Muscat and Mirbat. The neighboring Hallaniyat Islands are also a great spot for diving with
whales, and the best way to visit them is onboard a diving cruise (a good option is a Dive
Best time to dive in the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea
Diving is possible all year round, except in the south, where the monsoon season (or khareef,
as it is known in the region) forces almost all dive centers to close between June and
September. From April to May and from September to October there is the best combination
of surface and sea temperatures for diving in the north, with May being the best month for
visibility, and September and November the best months for diving with whale sharks.