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Diver safety training delivers for marine research

With its location on the shores of the Red Sea and an international reputation for marine science, KAUST needs teams of skilled research divers with expertise in identifying key marine species. Now, marine researchers and partners from industry and other institutions can receive internationally accredited dive training on site, while others further develop their expertise in identifying corals.

KAUST can now offer a scientific research diving course, accredited by the American Academy of Underwater Sciences, that provides 100 hours of intense, advanced training over a flexible period.

As an organizational member of the Academy, KAUST’s central lab is now able to provide scientific diver training and certification, the only entity in Saudi Arabia with such a license. Through the university’s Academy membership, KAUST-trained divers are eligible to dive at other member institutes, facilitating research collaborations and ensuring that best practices are shared around the world.

In 2021, KAUST signed a memorandum of understanding with the Saudi Water Sports & Diving Federation to develop scientific diving regulations by sharing knowledge and experience. The aim is to encourage the appropriate and safe use of the Red Sea’s resources.

KAUST is now able to offer expertise and collaborate with the Federation to implement policies, regulations and procedures for scientific diving in the Kingdom.

After completing the course, divers are qualified to help others in emergencies, perform advanced oxygen administration and CPR, and carry out emergency first response for diver accidents and incidents.

Divers also gain practise carrying out activities in extreme marine environments, including seabed scientific research, recovering scientific instrumentation, commandeering and assisting remotely operated underwater vehicles, and helping to recover an aircraft black box.

After the first course in 2020, the university now has 92 registered scientific divers and scientific divers in training. For KAUST and the Kingdom, the course meets a real need for Saudi citizens to lead in their fields of expertise in marine sciences.

“Looking to the future, KAUST has the opportunity to build on the course’s success, expand access to it and certify more Saudi nationals,” says lab director Edward Lloyd Smith.

“Students from across the country and further afield may now realize their ambitions in underwater research, placing Saudi Arabia on the map for scientific diving for the first time in history.”