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Ahmed Gabr: SDI Instructor Trainer Ambassador

Ahmed Gabr is the world’s deepest diver. The Egyptian’s name lit the world stage on 18 September 2014, when he marked the history of competitive ultra-deep diving by reaching the depth of 332.35 metres using open-circuit scuba, breaking the previous long-standing record achieved in 2005, he is one of only six men to have ever dived below 300 metres (980 ft).

Ahmed is a three-time Guinness World Record breaker; Deepest Scuba Dive, Deepest Sea Dive, and in 2015 he mobilised 614 divers for the Largest Underwater Clean-up.  As an SDI/ TDI/ ERDI Dive Instructor Trainer, he is backed by 20+ years experience in sport and military diving; an ex-Special Forces officer, a graduate of the US Combat Diver course, his passion for technical diving began soon after becoming a professional dive instructor in 1996. He provides real experience & expertise, increasing sport diving’s orientation toward innovative, disciplined and safe practices. Leveraging his brand and image, he supports campaigns for protection of the marine environment. This transfer of knowledge is also facilitated through his speaking engagements world-wide.

What was the first dive you did and how did it influence you to start a career in the diving industry?

In 1991 aged 18, I performed my first dive during my open water course. My initial decision to enrol in the dive training was based on my eagerness to join the military; scuba diving was the next best thing as I had not yet graduated from the military academy I was attending at that time. Like everyone in Egypt, I admired the legacy of Jacques Cousteau, his documentaries made the Red Sea famous, but it was not until I used SCUBA to experience the beauty, and to interact in this 3D environment myself, that I began to imagine life as a sub- mariner – for me it was just the coolest thing to do (…Egypt never had a space program…). Later, I joined the Army, in my spare time I continued diving and soon went on to become a dive instructor, moonlighting in tourism. My dive training also played a big part toward helping progress my military career, I passed intense physical fitness tests and was accepted into “the toughest military school”, graduating from the Combat Diver Qualification Course, at the Special Forces Underwater Operations School in Key West, Fla., run by C Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group, U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. If it were not for that first dive, and subsequent training and experience in the Red Sea dive industry, I might not be part of that elite force, nor have achieved my record deep dive to 332.35 meters. Scuba diving has given me so much, including a rewarding occupation as an Instructor Trainer to fall back on after retiring from my 20+ year’s military career

What do you believe is the most important trait of a professional educator and why?

Patience dealing with dive students at different skill levels.

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What is your favorite SDI class to teach and why?  

Instructor Development Course (IDC). A dive student’s completion of the IDC/IE marks the culmination of their diving education and experience, it gives me great satisfaction to see they’re ready to become great instructors, who will go on to train and add real value to their own students diving, and hopefully, the cycle will repeat.

What is a bucket list dive you still have?

To dive in Antarctica! It’s my number one dream destination, to dive, experience and see for myself this place of unique natural beauty – icebergs, wildlife, and maybe even some wrecks. It’s also a challenge, not only is it difficult to get there (it’s something that most people won’t ever see in their lifetime), it’s the extreme environmental knowledge that I’m interested in, and the specialized skills and ice-diving equipment training. I’ve started my trip planning and preparation, including budgeting for it, but it will still be a while until I get there.

What is one bit of advice you would give to a perspective Instructor candidate about to embark on becoming an SDI Instructor?

A visit into the underwater world is an extraordinary experience that most people are able to achieve. The best SDI Instructors are the authentic ones who are passionate about their sport and habitat, your students will truly be impacted by interacting with you. This is a good start to ensuring your students get the best diving education and experience possible. Remember to stay objective, provide appropriate levels of challenge to match your student’s skill level. With that said the first most important thing is to be diligent about following all the dive industry health and safety standards, this, as well as always showing your great personality and friendly attitude will go a long way in helping your students feel comfortable and secure so they can fully enjoy their diving.