Hello there Dive Bunnies! It's been a while since my last post - and I've been up to a lot of things! I have now qualified as a PADI OWSI (before my 19th birthday!) , with 5 specialties including: Deep, wreck, nitrox, navigation and drysuit. I don't have very many certs at the moment, but that is soon to change as i have just started freelancing for 3 different dive centers in the North East of England.
I have also moved into the tec world of diving, and completed my IANTD Advanced Recreational Trimix course! It was a tad chilly in NDAC (Chepstow) at Feb! Even harder to carry my twin 12's and stage!!!
Since then i have done lots more deeper diving with twinset and a stage - I have even ventured into cave diving! Hodge Close is not a fun entry when there is snow on the ground!!
So, what i really want to do now, is work abroad again, and this time i have my heart set on Egypt! An area where a few of you may be able to help out!!
Basically, do i book a weeks holiday and just look for jobs and do some diving? Any heads up would be much appreciated! Or if you know any centers with job vacancies?
As for working in Egypt... I am still here, so guess I am possibly a good person to give you a little info.
I will say things have tightened up a touch recently. Even last year, it was very easy to get work here, turn up, hang around for a few months make yourself available to all the major dive centres and sooner or later a decent instructor will generally start getting calls for work.
However, the government have got tougher on work permits, and despite assurances to the contrary, are limiting the number of permits available to each dive centre. For people who have been here for some time, this is not a problem as they have become established with a centre and have permits. For new staff, it is not quite so easy. Some centres are simply not looking for Western staff at the moment simply because it would require going through the whole work permit saga.
Having said that, if you have extra skills to offer, you may have more chance. Some dive centres want instructors who can teach in more than one language, so that is always a bonus. Good languages to have are German, French, Danish, Russian and Italian. Also with your tech experiences, if you were able to take that to the next level and move up to technical instructor, that could be a bonus. Or BSAC as most of the instructors here are PADI, and in the English dive centres, there is a definite call for BSAC instructors. And another big bonus is being a woman. As far as I know, there are no female Egyptian instructors at all, so dive centres are very aware that the balance is starting to tip back towards the old days, where you only had a few female instructors on board. And let's face it, people like a balance of men and women, so that will always go in your favour too
I would definitely come out with a good buffer of finance behind me if I were you, rent is not cheap (we pay €500 a month plus bills for a 2 bed apartment... admittedly we could have gone cheaper, but we have made Sharm our home) and food has also gone up in price since I moved here.
Having said all that, the diving here is truly awesome! And, you can make a career for yourself here, as the work is all year round. The sea temp drops to around 21-22ºC at its coldest so it is possible to get quite established over time.
Some of the better centres are: Ocean College, Emperor, Camel, Sinai Divers (especially if you speak German), Colona (especially if you speak a Skandinavian language) and Red Sea College (actively looking for staff at the moment, in particular people not already in Sharm... they too want languages).
I hope that helps, if you need any more info, feel free to drop me a line.
Thankyou for the excellent reply! Cpuld you explain a little more about Visas, and work permits?
I am planing on flying out for a week at the end of May, with a friend, and just go around all the dive centers, looking for work. As well as emailing lots of dive centers in the Sharm area - as i think thats the best place to get a job.
So hope you have a fantastic time when you come over here in May. A great time of year to visit. A couple of things I would recommend... firstly book your diving in advance, on-line... all the major dive centres will offer you the best deals if you book a dive package in advance compared with just turning up on the day. Some airlines will also give you an extra 5kg luggage allowance if you can show your diving certs.
Secondly buy a visa at the airport when you arrive. There are several kiosks run by various banks, all pretty much the same, so go to the one with the shortest queue. It costs £10 or thereabouts, and make sure they give you a paper sticker that you peel off and stick into your passport... after that, you can then head for passport control where they will stamp the lot with your entry stamp. Don't be tempted to go for the free "Sinai only" stamp as that will not allow you to get into the Ras Mohammed National Park, Dunraven or Thistlegorm dive sites. Ignore what any of the reps or staff there say, you will need this sticker if you want to dive in Ras Mohammed... and if you haven't been here before, believe me you will want to dive there If you have been here before, you will want to dive there again hehe.
That visa will last you a month, so if you decide to stay a little longer, you have a bit of leeway before you need to start thinking of residents' visas or work permits.
If you do decide to stay longer than the month, then you need to get a resident's visa up in El Tor (a town about an hour and a half away), before that month is over. It is fairly straightforward but takes a little while, so take a book with you, several photocopies of your passport and several passport photos. For about £20 you will then be able to stay for another year! Oh and water.. but on this one day, don't overdo the water, as you really won't want to use their loo! Take loo roll just in case tho
Bear in mind this is not a work permit, for this you will either need to be sponsored by a dive centre, or pay a lawyer (quite a bit) to organise one for you. By this stage, you will probably have an idea of whether you want to stay or not.
I will say that the recession has affected us quite a bit. We had the quietest February that I remember this year. However summer looks set to be busy, so there may well be opportunities. Things are also a bit up in the air a bit, as it used to be really easy to work here.. you simply stayed and worked. Now they are cracking down on things, and work permits are limited in supply. But it is early days and things may well go back to the slackness that we had before hehe.
It sounds like you are doing the best thing in getting your dive CV together ahead of time, print plenty of copies as they don't have colour printers in the local internet stores. Bring a laptop if you have one, as most cafes and bars have free wifi available for their customers which is really handy. And yes do email all the centres ahead of time. They probably won't offer you anything, but if your name is already a little familiar when you arrive, then that can only be a good thing.
Finally when you are here, take a day or two to walk the strip and take your CV in to everyone. There are loads of centres in addition to the ones I mentioned.. OK some are better than others, but you may as well put yourself out there to everyone.
And good that your holiday is not booked for some time in the next few days! Hopefully all the volcanic ash will have blown away by the end of May...
As for your diving. I work for Ocean College, which is one of the larger dive centres in Sharm. There are about five centres which I would equally recommend, as they too work to similar safety standards and employ good conservation practices. The others you will find, may cut corners or be less careful with regards to protecting the reef. I will say that out of all the centres, Thomsons and First Choice chose us to provide dive courses and trips for all their guests.
We also have possibly the longest standing staff base in Sharm with some of our instructors having worked for the dive centre for up to ten years. Even I have been working at Ocean for five years. So we kind of know the reefs quite well hehe.
Feel free to book with Ocean via the web-site or you can now book your whole trip, flights hotel and diving via the Sportif website. Check out the last minute offer outlined in red staying at the Ocean Club hotel for a bargain. We are based in the hotel too, so you can roll out of bed and into the jetty bus.
As I said there are many many dive centres so feel free to look into diving with Red Sea College, Emperor Divers, Camel or Sinai Divers. They are the others that I would recommend. These will all also give you a good week's diving. I like to keep things fair.
Yes we pick up guests from all over Sharm el Sheikh. If you have booked through Thomsons they will use us for your diving that you book automatically, or alternatively pop along to the Ocean College web site to book a dive pack.
Most of our trips last the whole day, although you can book a beach dive separately once here, which would be a half day... usually the morning. If your non diver friends like, they can come on the boat too as snorkellers (they don't have to get in if they don't want, although the price is the same). They can book a snorkelling pack on line, which is cheapest, or pay once in resort which is €25 per day and includes mask, snorkel and fins. The boats are quite big, with a sun deck and plenty of shade. Lunch is cooked on board and served between dives (50le per day which includes unlimited drinks on the boat).