For Hiba Wazzaz, scuba diving has been on her mind for a long time, ‘I remember when I was about 15, my friend went on holiday to Australia and she was telling me how awesome it had been to try scuba diving. I asked how deep she went and she answered 10 metres. Though I was envious, I said “only 10 meters?” as if it was so natural for me to be diving deeper.’
However, diving wasn’t an activity Hiba would take part in for many years to come. Throughout her adult life she would pass by dive shops and PADI Diving centres in towns that she lived, wondering what would happen if she stepped inside, ‘so many times when I was walking across the beaches of Chios, the Greek island I lived on for 8 months, I was looking for the dive centre I saw online even though I was planning on moving back to live in my homeland, Switzerland.’ Even when she moved to Neuchatel, Switzerland she would sneak a look through the dive shop window, trying to guess what it was all about.
For Hiba diving isn’t an activity relegated to the bottom of a list that changes with her fancy, ‘it’s like a little voice inside since I was a child, that kind of voice that you can forget at times but that always comes back, telling you to go there, that you may well find the freedom you are seeking for there.’
So why is it so special?
After moving to Malta in 2017 Hiba finally took the plunge. There are three reasons she cites as being the most important for her having achieved her life-long goal of becoming PADI certified, ‘one of my New Year’s resolutions was to stop complaining. My husband always encouraged me to see the positive side, but it was like a habit, I had to complain about anything.’ However, once she learnt to dive she learnt to extend the appreciation for the ocean to other areas of her life, ‘when you dive, you can’t be complaining! There are so many little things that can bother you on a dive; from your fin strap sliding on your heel, your mask leaking, to the bother of taking your gear on and off. But you are really lucky to be able to dive, and you are here for fun, so you learn to appreciate it all.’
As a mother her main focus is ‘family first’ but she found, through scuba diving, that she could find time to get back to herself, ‘Diving offers me the perfect escape. Without leaving my boys too long, or too often. When I dive, I just forget the outside world, the struggles, the duties, and while my air tank is emptying, I’m filling my personal tank with energy!’
The final reason is that it shows her female empowerment. As a Muslim woman she is proud to show the world she too can be active and enjoy diving, ‘many people thinks scarved Muslim women are powerless or oppressed and they rarely see them to be active. Well this is so untrue, and I’m here to prove it.’
If you’re interested in becoming a PADI diver head to your local PADI dive shop and have a chat about how you too can get started!