Somaya Zidan: Underwater Welder Extraordinaire!

Throughout the different ages, there have always been women who chose the daring path. Those women followed their dreams, even if those dreams involved a career path usually only reserved for men. History always remembers those women, those firsts, who were not intimidated by a room full of men, where they were sometimes seen as an outsider. Somaya Zidan is one of those women. The 25-year-old is one of the first Egyptian and Middle Eastern women who got into the field of underwater welding.

It is extremely refreshing to learn about the support Somaya received from her family, especially her father. “Before I apply, I called my father. He asked me if I was interested in it and would like to try it. When I said yes, he told me he will be by my side supporting me,” she continues, “the next day he went with me to buy the overalls, safety boots and other equipment I will need in my welding workshops.” This is not the only support Somaya received, though, “when I applied, the management was very encouraging, and even now that I have been working for six years in the field, they still are very supportive.” Somaya says.

I called my father. He asked me if I was interested in it and would like to try it. When I said yes, he told me he will be by my side supporting me

This does not mean that she does not come face-to-face with the fact that this is a male-dominated field, “most of the bullying comes from Social Media, from people who work in the field,” she explains, “they will say things like ‘you’re coming to share this job with us too?’” But as Somaya explains, women nowadays have made great strides in all kinds of career paths, so why should this be any different? “You could take a ship or a plane to another country and upon arrival you would find out that the captain who took you there is a woman,” Somaya tells.

You could take a ship or a plane to another country and upon arrival you would find out that the captain who took you there is a woman

One cannot neglect to mention the adventurous side to this job. Working underwater must allow for many encounters with marine wildlife that are equal parts beautiful and terrifying. Keeping this in mind, Somaya’s passion for this job makes even more sense. “I saw a shark here in an island in Hurghada called Geziret Abu Ramada,” she continues, “but we have a misconception about sharks. Us humans are not part of sharks’ diet. You could say sharks are curious.”

but we have a misconception about sharks. Us humans are not part of sharks’ diet

An exciting, fascinating career like this does not come without its risks, though. During her deepest dive yet, at 46 meters, Somaya experienced what is commonly referred to by divers as “narcosis”. Narcosis is when a diver starts to experience drowsiness as if they have ingested a narcotic substance. This can be life-threatening, as the diver might take off their equipment and come out of the water too quickly, resulting in exploded lungs, or they might even drink too much water and drown. “I had a buddy with me, Captain Walid Bakr, and when I started experiencing the symptoms, I tapped his hand and signaled to him that I am beginning to feel drowsiness,” she says, “the only treatment for narcosis is to come up to a shallower depth, so we began rising and I started feeling normal again.”

Somaya is working towards her dream still. She would like to one day have a ship of her own, and to start a marine works company where the youth can learn underwater welding and other marine works. “I want to support the youth just like I was supported when I was still starting,” she concludes.

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