With over 25 years as a PADI Professional, Khaled Zaki has seen a lot change in the diving industry. Here, he talks to us about his passion for photography, education and conservation…
How did you get involved with diving?
Growing up by the Mediterranean, swimming and snorkeling on a daily basis is how my relationship with the ocean and it’s marine life started. In the 1990s I went to the Red Sea in Sharm El Sheikh for a holiday. Here I did a 30 minute try dive and that’s when I fell in love with the sport. I remember thinking ‘I want to do this again and again’. I enrolled in the next PADI course and soon complected my PADI Open Water Diver certification, followed by the Advanced Open Water Diver, Rescue and Divemaster certifications. I was totally inspired by the Red Sea and the lifestyle away from the big city traffic and daily routine.
Has being a diver affected your life and career?
Indeed, diving has affected my life. I’m very lucky to have been a diving professional for about 25 years, meeting new people every day and helping them to make their dreams come true so they can enjoy diving. Having diving as a career meant that I could enjoy my work and passion together, rather than having a typical kind of job like I saw many others have. I was lucky to work in Sharm El Sheikh in the Red Sea, a world class diving spot, during the early 90s, surrounded by top diving professionals, from whom I learnt so much about the recreational diving industry.
My work here enabled me to participate in building, designing and operating many prestigious diving centres and boats. I currently use my photography skills to promote and support divers, dive centres and boats through educational underwater photography classes, workshops and programmes to increase and promote diving in several new locations worldwide.
What has been your biggest achievement in diving so far?
Working as a PADI dive instructor gives me the credentials to be an adviser for related technical, environment and educational marine issues. Working as a professional underwater photographer and film maker has given me a chance to dive even more, and travel around to gain more experience about how scuba diving could have a positive impact on the environmental and economical states of countries in different regions.
What does ‘My PADI’ mean to you?
My PADI is a huge part in my life; I even use what I’ve learnt through PADI in my other areas of my life. It truly changed my life and so many others. When you say ‘Playstation’ the first thing that comes into your head is ‘Sony’ and I believe the same is with PADI, when you think ‘Scuba diving’ the first thing that comes into most people’s head’s is ‘PADI’.
PADI is the reason I have met so many new people and inspired countless others to try diving and have fun. It means that I am part of one of the biggest organisations on the planet for education and get to explore and preserve the most precious gift of all: the ocean.
What can divers do to help in supporting the ocean and aquatic environments?
For the last 25 years I have been lucky enough to travel to many different regions on the planet and I have seen, first hand, what is happening in the water and on the beach, and how plastics and other trash can be a serious problem. Now days with social media the world has become very small. I believe that underwater photography plays an important part in showing divers and non-divers alike, the beauty of the ocean and how fragile it is. The ocean needs our protection as, aside from the degradation of the marine environment, there is a direct impact on the health of people from pollution. Through international efforts I’m sure that every little effort will make a huge impact overall.
If this interview has inspired you to work on your underwater photography skills, why not check out our Digital Underwater Photographer specialty.