While the United Arab Emirates may be known more for its shopping than its water sports, there is plenty to do and see under the water. You can find a little bit of everything in the range of dive sites offered by this tiny yet powerful nation. Diving in the United Arab Emirates can roughly be divided into three areas, namely the Arabian Gulf, the East Coast and Musandam.
The Arabian Gulf, which is closest to the major centers of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, has the most dive shops but at the same time, the least exciting diving. There are no coral reefs in this part of the Gulf and even worse, visibility around dive sites in the area is often negatively impacted by construction and dredging projects around Dubai. The one thing this area has going for it is a pile of shipwrecks. As Dubai is a busy shipping center, it only stands to reason that there would be a plethora of wrecks outside its harbor. The best of these wrecks are Zaineb and the MV Ludwig. If you are intent on seeing marine life in Dubai and have deep pockets, try booking a table at the famous underwater restaurant in the Burj Al Arab hotel.
The East Coast, bordering the Gulf of Oman in the Indian Ocean, offers pristine reefs and a couple small wrecks. Khor Fakkan and Fujairah are the biggest cities on this side of the UAE. They do host a few dive shops, but the majority of people choose to stay in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Traveling every day to the East Coast will add 90 minutes to both sides of your diving day. It’s probably worth it to take advantage of the vibrate reefs and plentiful marine life found in the area. A few of the most popular dive sites include Martini Rock, Pinnacles, and the wreck of Inchcape.
The best of the diving in the UAE can actually be found in Oman. Musandam is an odd bit of Oman that actually does not touch the rest of its country. Instead, the mountainous peninsula is surrounded by the UAE and virtually unpopulated save a few villages found along the lagoons. Here divers will relish the opportunity to dive with gorgeous reefs and fantastic species of marine life, including the elusive whale shark.
Diving is possible year-round in the United Arab Emirates. However, water temperatures (71°F/21°C) in the winter and air temperatures (122°F/50°C) in the summer will make diving more uncomfortable than at other times of the year. Summer and winter months also bring the worst visibility of the year. With that said, the United Arab Emirates is a great place for all levels of diver. It is even the perfect place to earn your first certification as most of the dive sites are relatively shallow and without heavy currents. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced diver, you are sure to love your dive trip to the United Arab Emirates.