Egypt dives into the record books

Divers from around the world take the plunge in Hurghada setting a new Guinness World Record for the greatest number of divers taking part in an underwater clean-up.

HURGHADA, EGYPT (JUNE 5, 2015) (REUTERS) – Egypt’s Red Sea resort town, Hurghada, has made its way into the record books, as divers set a new world record for the largest underwater clean-up.

The event, which was held to commemorate World Environment Day saw 614 divers take the plunge on Friday (June 5).

The feat was organised by Egyptian diver Ahmed Gabr, record holder of the deepest dive of more than 1000 feet.

“A new Guinness World Record for the achievement for the most participants in an underwater cleanup for Mr. Ahmed Gabr. He managed to arrange 614 participants. He is officially amazing and congratulations Ahmed,” said the official from the Guinness World Records, Seyda Subasi-Gemici.

It took Gabr just over seven months to organise the challenge.

“I decided to go ahead with the record seven months ago so I applied to the Guinness world record. They accepted my application and then they started to send me the guidelines on what to do and how to count the people and here we are. Thank God the weather was good today,” said Gabr.

The previous world record is held by Abu Dhabi with 300 participants. Gabr was aiming for 400 but his expectations were exceeded after he witnessed the turnout.

For the record to become officially acknowledged each diver had to bring back one piece of waste from the ocean floor and be a certified diver.

Among the divers was Egyptian Minister of Tourism, Khaled Rami.

“We are very concerned with marine environment and as the Minister of Tourism, I am personally very concerned. I have participated in the cleanup of the ocean floor. Honestly, I didn’t find a lot of garbage. We performed our duty and this was very important for us,” said Rami.

With over 30 environmental protectorates and many diving spots including shipwrecks, Egypt is considered one of the major diving destinations in the world. Among the aims of the event was to promote diving tourism and environemntal protection.

“I am thanking God that we did a new thing. I came here because I love my country. All the effort I exerted during my lifetime was because I love my country. Today the most beautiful thing is that all the people made you feel that they too, love their country and collectively we want this country to rise,” said one of the record breaking participants, Tamer Al Sharqawy.

The Egyptian tourism sector is aiming to attract 20 percent more tourists in 2015 than 2014 after it’s recovery from four years of political turbulence, Rami said last month.

Egypt’s tourism revenue reached a peak at $12.5 billion a year in 2010, but was less than half that in 2013 as turmoil in the run up to the army’s toppling of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi deterred visitors.