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Whether you’re an average swimmer who’s always dreamed of exploring the depths of the sea, or a certified and experienced scuba diver, a trip to the world’s deepest swimming pool located in Dubai will not leave you disappointed.

The Deep Dive Dubai pool that opened last summer is filled with 14 million litres of water and has a depth of 60 metres — although how deep you can go depends on your level of experience. But it’s not just the sheer vastness of it that sets it apart.

In an exclusive chat, Jarrod Jablonski, Director of Deep Dive Dubai, told Business Recorder that beginners can either snorkel on the surface or dive to a depth of 12 metres, where they will find “a car, two motorcycles, a pool table so you can play billiards or pool underwater. There’s a Lego man, an ATM machine, a telephone, shopping cart, chessboard,” among many other things.

Certified divers can go down to 30 meters, where there’s “a whole series of fully furnished rooms that they can explore.”

More qualified divers can explore at 40 meters and the most experienced can get all the way to 60 meters.

“My favourite feature is a huge tree … it’s growing up from about 20 meters all the way up near to the surface. It really creates a very cool, picturesque kind of scene,” says Jablonski.

That’s not all, there’s even a bathroom at around 7 meters.

“I’ve never expected how many people like to take pictures of themselves sitting on a toilet while underwater,” Jablosnki says, laughing.

And you don’t need any special skills to take the plunge.

“You don’t have to be a strong swimmer, but you should be able to swim. And really, beyond that, we don’t ask for much more … it’s such a unique diving experience. “It’s comfortable, easy and safe to explore. It provides the optimal environment for people of any age group or experience level … whether they’re kids, people of determination etc.”

He says about half of the visitors are non-divers who’ve never experienced diving underwater.

One of its staff members, who is Pakistani, “has been with us since the beginning. And interestingly enough … he came to the facility not knowing how to swim, and we taught him to swim and scuba dive. And now he’s one of our regular active divers as a staff member in the facility.”

How it works

You will need to sign a medical release and liability waiver. You will then be given a “nice thin, comfortable wetsuit”.

Once you put that on in the changing room, you will get a 30-minute briefing on how the equipment works. Then you get into a small pool for a hands-on session where you learn what to do if water enters your mask or if the regulator falls out of your mouth.

After “a couple of fairly basic things you’re off to the races to explore the sunken city.”

“Our staff are among the most skilled in the industry and they take their time moving people (down) meter by meter. If people are feeling a little bit anxious we’ll take more time in shallow water, but then they just slowly work themselves a bit deeper.”

For non-divers, experiences start at about AED400 and go up to AED1,800. If you pay extra, you can get “Instagram-style, edited video to share with family and friends” as per the website that are sure to get you some bragging rights.

‘Millions of challenges’

It was by no means easy to build this gigantic facility. Jablonski explains that “once we started digging, we immediately ran into trouble because within 9 meters, we hit the water table, which means you’re now digging in wet desert sand.”

The entire facility had to be dewatered, which meant pumping the water off site so that the water table can be lowered. As they dug, they also had to build waterproof walls to keep the water from coming in.

Scaffolding had to be built from the bottom all the way up and cabling to power 56 cameras, 200 lights and an underwater sound system needed to be “snaked through the facility”. At one point there were about 600 workers on site.

There were “millions of challenges” to build the pool, Jablonski says, and once the facility was built, the nature of challenges changed.

“Response was so overwhelming that we had to try to scale on the fly to really manage that kind of demand. Now a lot of work is put into trying to maintain our position as an international center for excellence.”

Deep Dive Dubai has developed programmes for children and people of determination that include community events and workshops. It’s also launched research programmes to expand knowledge of scuba and free diving, and ‘generally just trying to create a really vibrant platform for future achievements and discoveries”.

‘Yet another reason to visit Dubai’

Jablonski has worked in the diving industry for years, founding a training and research conservation organization in the 1990s. He moved to Dubai from the US because of “the scale and the enthusiasm” of Deep Dive Dubai.

He believes the vision takes inspiration from UAE’s pearl diving heritage and the determination of Emirati explorers and innovators.”

Speaking of Dubai, he says “the desire to accomplish the impossible is really woven into the fabric of society”.

It’s what brought him to Dubai, and he thinks “that’s the same kind of enthusiasm that brings so many tourists to the city as well.”

Deep Dive Dubai is part of the UAE Tourism Strategy 2031, announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. The goal is to diversify revenue sources and for tourism’s contribution to GDP to be AED450 billion in 2031.

The strategy is in partnership with various federal and local tourism authorities, national airlines, international institutions and companies

According to Jablonski, these kinds of endeavors are key to making the UAE among the top global tourist destinations.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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