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Scuba Diving in the United Arab Emirates
Dive Site: MV Dara
Location: 25°34'29"N; 55°27'58"E (Dubai, Persian Gulf side of the United Arab Emirates)
Depth: 21 metres (70 feet)
Visibility: 3 - 6 metres (10 - 20 feet)
The MV Dara was a passenger liner which sunk in 1961. The vessel caught fire following an explosion in the middle of the ship and although the fire was extinguished, the ship sank whilst under tow.
The Dara sailed between the ports of Dubai and Muscat, and during the early hours of 8th April 1961 a bomb planted by an Omani rebel exploded. It is believed that the bomb had been timed to explode when the Dara arrived at Muscat, however due to a storm the departure and been delayed and whilst the ship was weathering the storm, the bomb exploded. The disaster has been well documented as the loss of life was so considerable the final figure was 238 deaths, the greatest number of fatalities during peacetime after the Titanic. The wreck now lies in three main sections, although the mid section is smashed beyond recognition.
During July the sea is near its hottest and there is an algae bloom which affects the visibility. However visibility has been affected all year round off the west coat, due to the levels of dredging for the Three Palm and World Island developments. Although this is not a problem for exploring a wreck dive with your buddy, to be guided around a site like this is very frustrating. We were in a small enough group but the whole dive was spent following a pair of fins rather than exploring around wherever took you fancy. Marine life was reasonable with turtles, batfish, snapper, but not in large quantities.
Jenny Pickles, BSAC Dive Leader
I dived at Dara around Christmas of 2005. As it was my first wreck dive, I wasn't really sure what to expect. We arrived at the site, geared up and "splash" we were in the water. Visibility wasn't anything to write home about. Might have been seven meters, which is reasonable for the area. The dive master had warned us about variable and unpredictable currents, but we were lucky that day as the water was very calm. As for the ship.... if I wasn't told that I was diving a ship wreck then I would have thought I was diving a junk yard. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the dive immensely. The water temperature was a beautiful 24 Celsius. Sea life was abundant. I particularly remember a bunch of angelfish, a school of barracudas and a moray eel.
If you are in the area and you intend to dive then I recommend the east cost dives. However, if you want to experience what the Arabian gulf has to offer then the MV Dara is definitely a very good choice.
Dr. Maher Al-Ahdab
The dive site should be made a memorial resting place for the crew of our village who died on this ship. Mostly they were from a village in Goa.
I was wondering whay the ship was bombed in the first place, it sounds like a really sad occurence in history. I agree this shipwreck is a burial place for a lot of people who died that day.
Chelsea W. (16) | 04/05/2009
I have dived this site and would like to dive it more often but I have a limit as to the distance I go with my boat. It was one of the best wreck dives I have had in the Gulf and the loss of life is regrettable. It has an eerie feeling whilst diving it but all the same, brilliant.
Roger | 14/06/2009
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