11/09/2006 Issue 190 Past Issues

Red Sea Newsletter

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Feature Article... The History of Diving

The first steps of Diving

Diving HistoryMen and women have practiced breath-hold diving for centuries. Indirect evidence comes from thousand-year-old undersea artifacts found on land (e.g., mother-of-pearl ornaments), and depictions of divers in ancient drawings. In ancient Greece breath-hold divers are known to have hunted for sponges and engaged in military exploits. Of the latter, the story of Scyllis (sometimes spelled Scyllias; about 500 B.C.) is perhaps the most famous. As told by the 5th century B.C. historian Herodotus (and quoted in numerous modern texts),

During a naval campaign the Greek Scyllis was taken aboard ship as prisoner by the Persian King Xerxes I. When Scyllis learned that Xerxes was to attack a Greek flotilla, he seized a knife and jumped overboard. The Persians could not find him in the water and presumed he had drowned. Scyllis surfaced at night and made his way among all the ships in Xerxes's fleet, cutting each ship loose from its moorings; he used a hollow reed as snorkel to remain unobserved. Then he swam nine miles (15 kilometers) to rejoin the Greeks off Cape Artemisium.

The desire to go under water has probably always existed: to hunt for food, uncover artifacts, repair ships (or sink them!), and perhaps just to observe marine life. Until humans found a way to breathe underwater, however, each dive was necessarily short and frantic.

How to stay under water longer? Breathing through a hollow reed allows the body to be submerged, but it must have become apparent right away that reeds more than two feet long do not work well; difficulty inhaling against water pressure effectively limits snorkel length. Breathing from an air-filled bag brought under water was also tried, but it failed due to rebreathing of carbon dioxide.

The History of DivingIn the 16th century people began to use diving bells supplied with air from the surface, probably the first effective means of staying under water for any length of time. The bell was held stationary a few feet from the surface, its bottom open to water and its top portion containing air compressed by the water pressure. A diver standing upright would have his head in the air. He could leave the bell for a minute or two to collect sponges or explore the bottom, then return for a short while until air in the bell was no longer breathable.

In 16th century England and France, full diving suits made of leather were used to depths of 60feet. Air was pumped down from the surface with the aid of manual pumps. Soon helmets were made of metal to withstand even greater water pressure and divers went deeper. By the 1830s the surface-supplied air helmet was perfected well enough to allow extensive salvage work.

Starting in the 19th century, two main avenues of investigation - one scientific, the other technologic - greatly accelerated underwater exploration. Scientific research was advanced by the work of Paul Bert and John Scott Haldane, from France and Scotland, respectively. Their studies helped explain effects of water pressure on the body, and also define safe limits for compressed air diving. At the same time, improvements in technology - compressed air pumps, carbon dioxide scrubbers, regulators, etc., - made it possible for people to stay under water for long periods.

[read more here]

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Make Your Escape... The Great Desert Circuit


The Great Desert Circuit
The Western Desert oases of Bahariyya, Farafra, Dakhla and Kharga offer nature, history and culture

The Great Desert Circuit runs over 1,000 kilometers from Cairo to Assiut through the desert oases of Bahariyya, Farafra, Dakhla and Kharga. Located 265 kilometers south of Cairo, Bahariyya is a drive-thru geological museum. Its black and orange basin is littered with fossils of the Cretaceous-era sea creatures that lived here when it was an inland sea.

If fossils are your fancy, take a 4WD to Gebel Dist at the north end of the oasis, which is chock-full of them. Even dinosaur bones have been found here, including the remains of a huge herbivore dating back 94 million years. Unfortunately, they were stored in Germany and destroyed during the Second World War by Allied bombs.

Fossils are not the only surprises to be found in the Western Desert. Cairo’s travel agencies organize tours to Qarat El-Hilwa for a peek at the much-hyped cache of “golden” mummies of the Ptolemaic era, as Zahi Hawass defined them upon their discovery in the 1990s — though despite their rich exteriors, their embalming was actually much sloppier than in previous eras. You might also be able to wrangle a permit to visit on your own. A ticket can be purchased at the local antiquities inspectorate for LE 30.

Bawiti, the oasis’ capital, is a dusty stretch of boredom. It does, however, offer some pleasant walks to the local springs. Start at Ain Bishmu, a craggy fissure that gushes hot water into a popular spring basin, then descend into the shady palm groves and orchards. Follow the raised-earth trails across fields to an encroaching dune field for some great panoramic views. Wander more and you may end up at Bir ar-Ramla, a hot spring two kilometers north of town. You might want to hold out on the swimming until Bir El-Ghaba, seven kilometers northeast of Bawiti, a hot-water tank in a eucalyptus grove accessible only by 4WD: The water is rich in minerals and can stain clothing, but wearing a baggy t-shirt over an old swimming suit, women can feel comfortable.

Between Bahariyya and Farafra the desert turns from beige to black, as a result of wind erosion of local mountains over the centuries. Proceeding further south to Farafra, it turns white. The White Desert (Sahra El-Beida) is a confectionery stand of geological wonders. Its landscape resembles a plate of giant truffles coated in icing sugar. Book a jeep and guide or go by camel to see the Magical Mushroom and hundreds of other surreal rock outcroppings with descriptive names like The Camel, The Ice Cream Cone and The Sphinx.

Snowy white during the day, the rock formations turn pink and violet in the twilight. Camp beneath the stars here, but be sure to bring a sleeping bag in the winter when nighttime temperatures plummet to zero. At dawn you may catch a glimpse of grazing gazelles and the mischievous desert fox. About 24 kilometers north of Naqb Al-Sillim (Pass of the Stairs) — which marks the end of the White Desert and leads into the Farafra depression — is the Crystal Mountain, a rock made of quartz crystal.

The Farafra Oasis is the most traditional of the four. Its capital, Qasr El-Farafra, is a quiet, insular community of just a few thousand farmers who produce olive oil, dates, figs, apricots, guavas, oranges, apples and sunflower seeds. The crumbling mud-brick fort and covered streets are worth checking out, as is local artist Badr Abd El-Moghny’s somewhat odd museum, which does not have regular hours but is free to visit. The grotesque portraits, sculptures made of palm tree trunks or sandstone, stuffed wildlife and buxom figures bring life and humor to this otherwise dull town.

When you’re ready, make the journey to Dakhla Oasis, southeast of Farafra. It is arguably the best of the bunch. Golden sand pours endlessly off the northern escarpment into the lush green oasis where farmers tend rice and wheat fields, fruit orchards and tiny fish ponds. Archaeologists are trying to prove that some of the first inhabitants of the Nile Valley came from Dakhla, after a huge prehistoric lake dried up. The capital, Mut, is a schizophrenic entity. The new city is drab and miserable, but hidden behind a mound of Islamic graves is a charming old medieval town where several hundred families dwell among crumbling mud-brick buildings.

Farther east is Kharga Oasis, whose capital, El-Kharga, lies 233 kilometers from Assiut. The museum of antiquities is worth a stop: it houses prehistoric artifacts as well as Pharaonic, Greek and Roman exhibits brought here from other oases. A taxi can take you three kilometers north of town to Al-Bagawat Necropolis, a sprawling early Christian cemetery cascading down a dusty hill. Each of the 263 domed mausoleums is unique, some with crude frescoes and Greek graffiti. A short walk through palm groves leads to the Temple of Hibis, one of only a few Persian monuments left in Egypt. It was dedicated to Amun by Darius I. With a little ‘persuasion,’ the slumbering guard will unlock an underground tomb with, oddly enough, reliefs of dolphins.

Gebel Dist

- Gebel Dist -


- Bawiti -


- Farafra -

Dakhla Oasis

- Dakhla Oasis -

Kharga Oasis

- Kharga Oasis -









Egypt's rice yield reaches record levels

Egypt achieved the world's highest national average rice yield in 2005 of 3.8 metric tons per acre, thanks to the introduction of newly-developed hybrid varieties.

Egypt's rice yield reaches record levelsEgypt's average yields were boosted by the introduction of newly-developed hybrid varieties such as SK 2034 and SK 2046, which outperformed the best local varieties by between 20% and 30%. They were selected from more than 200 hybrid varieties under a project led by the FAO, intended to help Egypt produce more rice with less water and less land.

Implemented by the Cairo Agricultural Research Center and the Rice Research and Training Center (RRTC), the project also helped train seed breeders and production personnel as well as extension workers and farmers.

The hybrids, developed locally under the FAO-led project, are aimed at increasing Egyptian rice output to resolve a national production gap stemming from population growth of 2.2% a year combined with increasingly limited land and water resources.

Egypt's population is set to increase from a current 75 million to 100 million inhabitants by 2025. Three million metric tons of rice will be needed by 2010 compared with current requirements of 2.8 million metric tons.

Egypt's appetite for rice mirrors growing international demand for what is already the world's most widely-consumed food. Globally, 618 million metric tons of rice was produced in 2005, but with world population growing by more than 70 million a year, an extra 153 million metric tons will be needed by 2030.

Despite Egypt's success, and progress towards a new generation of varieties, the FAO says the hybrid rice seed production is not a panacea. There are, for example, a number of countries lacking technical skills and infrastructure to carry out hybrid rice seed production programs.

According to Mr Nguyen, executive secretary of the International Rice Commission, in the medium term, increasing rice production in such countries could require a different approach, one based on introduction of better crop management practices.






www.elgouna.com El Gouna, The Red Sea's Premier Leisure Destination

What's On...


Dance Workshop: Modern and Creative Dance
2.-6. October 2006 (5 Days)
Monday-Friday 10.30-13.00 (including a small break)
In the Yoga Room of Blue Beach Hotel, Dahab

Dance Workshop in DahabThe Workshop:

Each session will begin with a dance-specific warm-up, based on contemporary dance techniques. During the workshops you will learn different combinations and short choreographies, and you will experience the richness and variety of modern dance - flow, dynamics, power, sensuality and humour!! Improvisation is also a strong part of modern dance and this will help to develop your creativity in all areas – just let yourself move. The aim of the workshop is to develop a longer choreography by the end of the five sessions.

This class is open to everybody interested in moving and dancing with or without experience. Dance is a beautiful language of communication without words, abstract and full of feeling, soul and expression. “When I dance, I feel alive“

The Teacher:

Regula is Swiss and has been living in Dahab since 2000. She is married to Ashraf (Sea Dancer Dive Center) and they are parents to two girls. Regula studied ballet, modern and creative dance at the „Rotterdamse Dansacademie“ in Holland. Back in Switzerland she danced in several dance companies and founded her own company together with Heidi Aemisegger (öff öff productions). She taught many classes, from children, to adults and professional dancers. She developed her own style in teaching, balancing dance technique and dance improvisation, Her intention is to motivate her students to expand their physical limits and own movement language never losing the joy in dancing.

The Costs:

100 Euro, Dahab Residents: 200 L.E.







Parents & Kids

Art Card

  • Ruler and pencil
  • Card stock or construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Artwork
Art Card

1. The following directions are for a 4 1/4-by-6-inch card (which fits nicely into a store-bought envelope), but obviously you can adjust the dimensions to any size you like. Using the ruler and pencil, trace a 12 3/4-by-6-inch rectangle onto your card stock or paper and cut it out.

2. Fold the rectangle in thirds, accordion style. From the top third, cut out a window that will fit your artwork, leaving at least a 1/2-inch border around the edges.

3. Slip the artwork behind the window so that it's centered. Now, glue the back of the artwork and the frame around the artwork to the paper behind them. Place the finished card under a book for about an hour to set.

Tips: If you don't want to part with your child's original artwork or want to use a very large piece of artwork, you can make reduced copies with a color copier.






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  • Sandwiches to match a Main Course
  • Cake & Sweet of the Day
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  • Catering & Party menu

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Broccoli Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo

Broccoli Chicken Fettuccini AlfredoThis is a simple recipe that is very good. Broccoli lends an added shade and taste of 'vitamin green' to a classic chicken and pasta dish.

  • 1/2 pound dry fettuccine pasta
  • 1 cup fresh chopped broccoli
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add fettuccini pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente, adding broccoli for the last 4 minutes of cooking. Drain.

  2. Cut chicken breast meat into bite size pieces, trimming any fat off in the process. In a large skillet melt butter or margarine over medium heat. Add chicken and saute until well browned. Add soup, milk and cheese and stir all together. Add pasta/broccoli mixture and heat through. Serve hot.







The Final Word


In our last issue we have been asking you for you comments, stories and views on Egypt. In response a letter by Gisela Kaiser reached us:

Liebe Leser,

hiermit möchte ich mich auch einmal über Ägypten und deren Menschen zu Wort melden.

Ich bin eine Frau in einem Alter von 68 Jahren und noch immer quietschfidel. Heutzutage schaue ich die Welt mit ganz anderen Augen an. So wie die unterschiedlichen Länder, Kulturen, Menschen, Bräuche und Sitten. Ich gehe einfach mit offenen Augen durch die Welt.

Grand HotelVor 5 Jahren habe ich Ägypten für mich entdeckt und gerade dort habe auch mein Herz verloren, doch nicht wie Ihr glaubt. Nicht an einen Mann, sondern an das Land mit allem drum und dran. Natürlich ist es nicht wie in Europa, keine Ellenbogengesellschaft, wenig Neid und was ich am schönsten finde, die Familien halten noch zuammen. Gerade in hrer Armut gehen sie durch dick und dünn, auch wenn es noch so hart erscheint. Wo gibt es das noch auf dieser Welt?!

Ich habe immer nur freundliche Menschen gesehen und wo man hinsieht, so ist weit und breit auf den Strassen ein fröhliches
Gelächter und Geschnatter zu hören. Gut, an der Sauberkeit hapert es noch ein bisschen und wenn man sich in den Touristkzentren umschaut, so wird auch der ein oder andere Verkäufer die Frauen anmachen. Das ist jedoch in jedem anderen Urlaubsland genauso, ob in der Türkei, Tunesien, Morocco, Thailand, Indien usw.
Hurghada Grand Hotel
Ich habe gelernt, mich mit den Menschen zu arrangieren, sie zu verstehen, sie zu akzeptieren, eben so, wie sie sind und bin
dabei immer gut gefahren. Mein Lieblingsort ist und bleibt Hurghada oder El Gouna.

Wenn ich meine Seele mal wieder so richtig baumeln lassen möchte, ja, dann trete ich die Flucht an und mache Urlaub in Ägypten. Es ist das Paradies für mich, kein Wenn und Aber. Jeder Mensch findet hier etwas für seinen eigenen Geschmack, die himmlische Ruhe, das türkisblaue Meer, Palmen, Sonne pur und des Nachts sind die Sterne am Himmel zum Greifen nahe. Auch gibt es genügen Zeitvertreib mit viel Trubel und Rummel, wenn man das sucht.

Nun habe ich 2 Bilder beigefügt, vielleicht vermitteln sie ein wenig von meinem kleine Paradies ÄGYPTEN !

Liebe Grüsse, G. K.

Do you also have funny stories to tell about Egypt? Do you want to share your view on Egyptian life with others?

Send us your own Final Word about Egypt, Egyptians and life in Egypt. If it is in English, German, Arabic, French or whatever, let us join your stories.

Please send your texts and/or pictures to news@spotredsea.com.

We are looking forward to reading from you soon.



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