There is no official list, but Omar estimates that more than 130 divers have lost their lives in the hole in the last 15 years. He compares what is happening in the Blue Hole to the madness on Mount Everest.
There is likely no one who knows more about the Blue Hole than Omar. He was the first to explore the hole, touch the bottom and see the bodies on the ocean floor. He still holds the depth record in the area: 209 meters.
The locals in Dahab tell the legend of how the soul of a dead girl lures the divers to her. She is taking revenge on her father, a general who once forced his daughter to drown herself in the Blue Hole. "I know every corner down there, and I haven't seen anything," says Omar. "No monster and no mermaid."
'The Parents Want a Burial'
Omar, 47, born in a village near the border with Libya, is a Bedouin from the Aulad Ali tribe. He has a slim build, gray side-whiskers and friendly eyes. He wears the white jellabiya, a shirt-like robe, along with a turban, sandals and Ray-Ban aviator glasses. Omar owns two mobile phones and an iPad.
He came to Dahab in 1989, looking for a job. In 1992, Omar learned to dive, and he began working as an instructor three years later. Since then, he has undertaken all the missions in the Blue Hole, he says. A "mission" is what Omar calls bringing a dead body to the surface.
He says that he doesn't wait long to recover a body, usually two or three days, but no more than seven. "The parents want a burial." Besides, he adds, the body looks terrible when it remains in the water for too long. Because of the crabs, he says. When that happens, it's better to leave it down below.
Omar squeezes into his neoprene suit ahead of a dive into the hole, but only for fun today. "It isn't difficult to dive in the Blue Hole. On the contrary," he says, "but that's what makes it risky." Many divers underestimate the hole, he says, which quickly turns it into a trap.
The Blue Hole is easy to reach. It doesn't take a boat to get there, and you don't even have to swim out to it. You just hop in. It's about 10 meters from a beach chair to the Blue Hole. The water is warm, there is no current and visibility is good.
When Omar slides down into the water, he floats like an astronaut in space, remaining almost motionless. The light and the colors gradually disappear, first red and later orange and yellow. In the end there is nothing but blue, hence the name.
The light returns at a depth of about 45 meters. It's the most beautiful in the morning, when the sun rises over Saudi Arabia and shines directly through the tunnel into the Blue Hole. It's a mystical sight, one that also attracts divers who shouldn't be down there.
Chasing the 'Magical 100' Dahab was once a fishing village. Today, waiters stand in front of restaurants on the boardwalk, trying to lure vacationers inside. Water pipes gather dust in the junk shops, and hotels and bars sit alongside safari agencies and diving bases. No one knows exactly how many there are. Some 52 are registered, and then there are the diving schools that operate without licenses.
Because of the tough competition, prices are low; diving is a discount business in Dahab. A beginners' course costs €200 ($244), and a guided dive at the local reef goes for €25. Divers who book a package of five dives get a sixth for free.