Saudi Diver Salma Shaker Is Raising Awareness About Ocean Conservation

6 min read
Image courtesy of Salma Shaker

The record-breaking freediver has inspired Saudi women to embark on new challenges underwater and her latest project investigates ways to save the sea life that is dying due to climate change

Nine-time Saudi freediving record holder Salma Shaker, whose father is a marine geologist, fisherman and boat captain, has grown up around the sea. She has been free diving, without the aid of any external oxygen supply, for the past five years and broken numerous records in reaching new depths, both within the Kingdom and internationally.

In a new film that aired on April 22, 2024 (Earth Day), 24-year-old Salma gives a deeper glimpse into the Red Sea waters, focusing on the coral reefs and how crucial they are to the global ecosystem. Beneath the Surface: The Fight for Corals is a partnership between Red Sea Global and Warner Bros. Discovery, and follows Salma as she dives along Saudi’s Red Sea coastline and discovers vibrant coral reefs – underwater ecosystems that are currently facing the threat of extinction. She also visits King Abdullah University of Science and Technology to meet with scientists and discuss how coral reefs can be saved, as well as the ways in which coral research can benefit the wider plight to help address climate change issues.

Salma was in Dahab, Egypt, training for a competition when she was first contacted by the filming team. “The opportunity was amazing and I 100% wanted to do it because it was so aligned with my morals,” says Salma, who says she learned a lot about the science behind coral reefs and climate change while working on the documentary.

Given her triumphs and passion for the sea, Salma is a natural narrator and face for the film – and while she may be one of the Kingdom’s first female freedivers, she is thrilled to know she is now one of many. “When I first started, I was just one out of three girls in Jeddah and another three in Riyadh – together we were just six or seven total, and we’re all good friends, ” she tells MOJEH.

“In the past five years I’ve seen so many people try the sport and now I can proudly say that there are women free diving in Saudi who I don’t know – and that’s what I want,” adds Salma. “I want the sport to flourish, and I’m very happy and proud to be a tiny bit part of that growth.” Watch Beneath the Surface: The Fight for Corals on Discovery Channel and Jawwy TV.

Read Next: Female-Led Book Clubs To Have On Your Radar

  • Words by Hafsa Lodi