Text: Shreya Acharya
 
The second day of the first ADEX show in India organised by Underwater 360 (International), Highrise (Sri Lanka and Maldives), and Events Solution (India) happened on October 5, 2019 at Bombay Exhibition Centre in Goregaon, Mumbai. Underwater360 is proud to be co-organiser of this inaugural event.

Maldives’ Former President attends ADEX as a GOH

Former President and Speaker of the People’s Maljis Maldives, Mohammed Nasheed, came to grace the event as a Guest of Honour at ADEX India about Maldives and the importance of healthy marine life.

“Maldives is not a small island state, it is a big ocean state.”

He says that Maldivians are the ocean people — people who live lives next to the ocean and grow up next to the sea. As such, the beach, sea, and underwater is intertwined with President Nasheed’s and also the lives of other Maldivians.

Maldives has a middle-income economy primarily thanks to the ocean. Therefore, he says, “It is in our interest that we maintain the beauty and health of the ocean.”

The Maldives is built on the coral reefs, and contains about 4500 square kilometers of reefs, or “farou”. The world has 800 species of coral and the Maldives boasts 250 of them. Maldives is also not only just for the rich— it is for everyone.

It is a new phenoma that humans have been able to observe the underwater. While the skies and stars are easy to see just by looking up, the sea shows blue but not what’s under it.

“When the Amazon burns we see it on TV and news. But when the reefs die we don’t see it.” He laments.

“In my view, this is why this exhibition becomes so important. You are the people that see it. We must tell the world about this.”

For 1000+ years we have had a clear definition and description of almost all our reefs, but haven’t been able to see them till recently.

“I come here as an advocate for protecting our environment. Our reefs are the first line of defense for our island. Without them, our island will face massive corrosion.”

It costs more than 750,000$ a metre to restore the reefs. As such, there is a need to preserve and save these reefs instead.

“The relationship divers have with marine biologists are very close, and this must be used.” The former president says.

There is a need to understand biodiversity and it’s conditions 50 years from now. “We are not willing to die.”

With climate crisis, humanity is at risk, but President Nasheed is optimistic.

“I believe we can save the planet. We can work against the odds and win it,” he says, “We want to survive. We must dream of a better world, and we will have a better world.”

India has taken upon herself, too, to realize that its reefs are important. India has a large shoreline; and has more reefs than mountains. “We are coming to a time where more and more Indians would go diving, to look at the world underwater.”

“The Environment must be an economic issue as well. You can’t just narrate it as a human rights and ethical issue. You need to get the message across.” He states.

“As politicians we can promise jobs, but green jobs. We can promise electricity, a good life, but the environment needs to be promised. This will be seen in the future of elections as well.”

He concluded by saying, “I may be a speaker and a former president, but I come here as a diver.”

 

Record holders shine at ADEX

 

Ahmed Gabr, Guinness World Record Holder in the Deepest Scuba Dive at 332.35 metres spoke about his venture and experience in breaking the record.

His companion had assured him, “If you go down and don’t come back up, it’ll be a movie. If you go down and come back up, it’ll be a record and a movie”

Ahmed believes that there is a huge difference between who you are and who you think you are. It took him 4 years to prepare for the deep dive, and every day of those 4 years he kept a goal and worked towards it.

Training was two parts for Ahmed: physical and mental preparation. Ahmed had no problem with the physical portion thanks to his history in the special forces.

“I actually had to reduce my physical activity!” He laughed.

The hard part was the mental aspect. “I had to remove the peer pressure. I had two options: if I focused with my main goal or if I waste time to think about what people think.”

“People thought I was an attention seeker. But I knew what I wanted to do. I didn’t listen to these people.”

At the end of the day, Ahmed chose to reside in the sixth dimension. “I chose to isolate myself in a bubble. But the bubble is flexible, it grows. But nothing can penetrate it.” Ahmed stopped listening to negativity and worked towards his goal. He failed a lot, but said, “what is the opposite of success? Not failure, it is part of success. I learnt, I failed so much- equipment wise, team wise. But the show goes on.”

Ahmed’s dive lasted almost 14 hours, and his friend “Sharkie”, an actual shark, kept him company for six of those hours. After the successful dive and record, Ahmed talked about him losing a third of his lung capacity that took months to recover.

 

Faisal Jawad Hashim, Guinness World Record Holder for the Fastest 10KM Scuba Dive in 5 hours 24 minutes talked about his near-death experience 14 years ago. His surgeon declared to Faisal’s family that he couldn’t promise anything: Faisal may not have been able to live for even 5 more minutes.

“Everyone suffers from loss in life. Some people crumble but others see that being strong is the only option,” he says.

But the hardest question to Faisal is: Would you like to walk again or not?

Faisal displays two photos: one of him in the hospital and another diving in the sea. “I am in both this photos. And I like both. The one on the right reminds me of how strong I can become.”

Faisal first felt that he lost everything— His health, study, and life. From being a professional football player in Kuwait’s national team to spending a year in the hospital recovering, he emerged to be born again. He started by included himself in the society again.

When he heard the terms: disabled, unable, and other negative words, he worked to change all these words with his hands.

“My determination is bigger than my disability. My rule in life is planning, planning planning. Plan 80%, work 20%”

In 2008, Faisal got his first international diving license, and Sipadan island was started his diving journey.

Faisal dove like a turtle, because he just used his hands. In his first dive, a turtle swam alongside him for a great part of the way.

“In 2005, I watched my friends play football and couldn’t join in, but in 2014, my friends longed to dive with me.”

Faisal was scared of the sea and the water as a child, but is now a rescue diver.

He broke the world record for the fastest scuba dive 1 hour quicker than the previous, able bodied record holder, at 5 hours and 24 mins.

“Don’t look at my legs as a challenge for me. Look at my eyes and the passion burning in them to take on the challenge.”

Faisal didn’t just break the record, he smashed it, leading to his “superhuman” title in the Guinness articles.

Leading back to the question, regarding if Faisal would like to walk again, he says, “Yes. But only if I have the same determination and courage I have today.”

“In 2005, I was the patient Faisal.

Today I am the champion Faisal.”

 

Panel discussion

A discussion and debate on sustainable diving tourism ensued with our moderator Ibrahim Naeem and panellists Zoona Naseem, Paul Tanner, Mitali Dutt Kakar, Jonah Skoles, Abi Carnadie, and Neil Francis.

Neil started off by saying that one should not be afraid to name and shame unsustainable practices and practitioners. Companies have a responsibility as an agency to conduct an investigation, push for retraining or even expelling to keep up standards.

Ibrahim also said that naming and shaming actually works, but Mitali added that it is the responsibility of a diver to report bad behaviour and practices in an agency.

Jonah countered that it is also good to reward good behaviour. “Don’t just name and shame but name and praise people who do their best as well.”

He insisted that companies need to work together. “There are so many issues but we’ve just scraped the surface. But if we put our heads together we can make a difference.”

Adi said that consumers try and choose sustainable operators, so businesses should sell themselves as such and also practice it. Hence, it is good for businesses to follow these footsteps.

Zoona said that, ultimately, education is very important. “Don’t blame policy makers. People should know what to do. It starts from home.”

Neil also added, “It’s purely about education and awareness, from children all the way to any person in the world. We can all implement changes– in personal, workspaces, or anywhere and everywhere you go. It starts with you and it can only grow from that.”

The second panel discussed Diving into Professionalism, and it was moderated by crowd favourite, Ahmed Gabr, and panellists included Julien Fortin, Commander Vishwanath Rajan, Anand Sharma, and John Seddon.

Ahmed questioned the panel on the accessibility of technical and professional diving, in which Rob, PADI’s Course Director for 20 years, said, “Back in the day the route wasn’t a defined route and systems were not clear. Now it’s more accessible route to be a tekdiver or a professional.”

Commander Vishwanath noted that there was no instructor training in India 13 years ago. But in contrast, today, 3 course directors, instructor trainers, and advanced level and speciality courses are available to the masses.

The consensus was that as professionals, one should not stop asking questions, especially “stupid” ones.

On the topic of the impact created by social media, Julien’s argument was that he simply did not believe in it. People have traveled distances to see him, and this is because he didn’t have a Facebook account. Ultimately, professionalism is more important. “It’s not one aspect of the job. If you’re spending 99% of time looking good for social media, you forget to look at equipment, technical parts, etc. Reality is slightly warped when social media is abused.”

John added that while social media is a powerful tool, most people are not trained in its use.

However, Ahmed made the point that generational and age difference should be considered when talking social media. “If you talk about millennials you can’t just ignore social media.”

Thanks to its technical but also highly relevant nature of discussion, and the jovial conversation-like flow of the dialogue, the panel kept the audience engaged and was very well received.

Speakers’ highlight

Julien Fortin from Technical Diving shared his in-depth expertise and experiences on Tek Diving and cave diving. He then posed a question: What can be done in India? Julien highlights, “Tek Diving simply exceeding rec limit without proper procedures and training is not tek. It’s stupid!” He also said that taking a passion and pushing it further is all about applying the right mindset.

Julien also emphasised on education, exploration and conservation. “Protect by it by proper training and getting the right buoyancy.” After all, Having the proper training, proper team, proper mindset makes a good Tek diver. “Everything you can find in the world, can be found in India. It’s just not found yet!”

Day 2 conclusion

ADEX India – Mumbai Dive show, today, served as a hub for businesses, divers, non-divers, and individuals alike in terms of its presentations, talks, panel discussions, and also its exhibitor booths. Audience interested in diving, or even just marine biodiversity and life, came together to enhance, learn from, and grow this tight-knit industry, proving that diving in India is definitely a budding activity.

Stay tuned for the exciting exhibitions, line up of programmes and international dive brands ONLY on ADEX India Day 3!

Register now and redeem your FREE digital copies of Asian Diver & Scuba Diver magazines and showguide at: https://adex.asia/india/emagazines/

ADEX Mumbai 2019, the inaugural Dive Expo in India hosted in partnership of Events Solution (India) and High Rise (Maldives) is held from October 4-6 in The Bombay Exhibition Centre. For more information, visit adex.asia/india/