Laila Al Habsi, a geologist working in the mining industry in Oman, is the first Arab woman to dive in Lake Baikal, considered the deepest and oldest lake in the world.
Diving was Laila’s passion when she was growing up in Oman and says it is a common pastime for many as the country has one of the best diving spots in the region.
As a child, Laila used to regularly visit Ras Al Hadd, known globally for turtle breeding and conservation, to snorkel and this contributed to her love for nature and the unknown. Growing up she dived regularly within and outside Oman. It was when she travelled to Russia for her higher studies, that her passion to dive in Lake Baikal became an obsession.
“It is the oldest lake geologically and holds 20 percent of the world’s freshwater – I wanted to see it, feel it and drink it,” she says.
As she slid down through the square hole drilled in thick ice, sunrays meandering down in ice cold clear water, Laila no longer felt the heaviness of the suit that she wore. In fact it hugged and squeezed her, creating a balance of pressure.
What struck her most as she dived down, that would stay vivid in her mind was the clarity of the water that was beyond any of her expectations. She caught glimpses of the sea world inhabitants passing peacefully around her. “Baikal was not merely a body of water, but an ancient living creature with a soul, containing endless life. The oxygen bubbles were imprinted and carved in the frozen sheets of ice above my head.”
Laila has already set her eyes for her next adventure, which is the pacific ring of fire. She would also like to go back to Kamchatka and visit the valley of geysers – the second largest collection of geysers in the world. Professionally too Laila is driven to be a catalyst of progress in the mining industry in Oman. “I hope to be a valuable contributing member of society to my country’s fast-growing sector.”
Laila draws her inspiration from nature, and ensures her feet touch the earth at least once a day – a loving reminder she says to stay grounded and strong. Her biggest motivation to achieve more, are her parents, Laila says, who are extremely supportive and encourage her to go after her dreams.