The family of our Ismail Marzouk went yesterday to the Public Prosecutor’s office, filing a report against the British company, Blue O Two, accusing the latter of negligence and absence of industrial safety standards that led to their son’s death.
On 9 September, Ismail’s family will join a protest in Hurghada planned by the divers to call for improving work conditions and enforcing safety measures on the tourism/diving companies. Rest in peace Ismail…
Ismail Marzouk, one of Egypt’s leading technical diving instructors, has died today in Daedalus, during a wreck dive. He was 33. His body was never recovered.
As a young Cairo law student, Ismail was active with the socialist movement, before moving to the Red Sea where he worked in eco-tourism, learned diving and quickly became one of the most prominent IANTD instructors in the Red Sea. I spent weeks with Ismail last winter in Hurghada, where he introduced me to technical diving. His hospitality, sense of humor were unmatched. His home in Hurghada, I felt, was mine too thanks to his warm fraternal personality. Ismail, who passionately supported the revolution, has also been active in the ongoing efforts to unionize Egypt’s divers.
He is survived by his wife, Jude, and baby daughter, Aisha. He will be terribly missed by his family and friends. Rest in peace, Ismail.
Alain Surina, French diving instructor, director of Alyses diving center in Hurghada, on a boat in Abu Ramada…
“I’ve been in the water seven times already today. I’m so tired. I can’t… No I can’t. Send someone else please. No, I told you I’ve been already in for seven times.”
The diver looked very exhausted indeed. I didn’t know him. He was sitting beside me in Abu Dabab. It was obvious he was calling his boss at the diving center, asking for replacement.
I couldn’t tell his age. Actually I find it hard in general to determine the age of divers I meet. I see people in their late 20s, but they look like they are in their 40s. Forget the stereotypical look you find in diving magazines or in movies, of that muscly well built man. The profession does weary you out quickly. Between the daily over-exposure to nitrogen, extreme physical activities, malnutrition, the divers I encounter in general are aging, very quickly.
This is only exacerbated by bad habits. The first thing a diver does when he comes out of the water is lighting a cigarette. Many go into the water on empty stomachs. The food they eat is shit, and usually with lots of carbohydrates. No proteins, or vitamin supplements. More catastrophically I’ve seen divers going into the water while they are sick, with bad cold.
The divers’ working conditions are almost as bad as the construction workers in Egypt, and the money they make is peanuts. Most of the money goes to the diving centers, not to the divers.
Egypt’s divers are part of the working class. And they need a union.