Every so often, I read an especially insightful book that makes an informed and impassioned case for the big impact of small life changes. When I read The Ikigai Journey: A Practical Guide to Finding Happiness and Purpose the Japanese Way, I learnt that if you look in the right direction, you can see that the whole world is a garden. It also compelled me to take a retrospective glance at my childhood, including old photographs and travel souvenirs, and then come up with projects that can evoke the same feelings in me today.
This contemplative lesson made me realise that I must pursue the passions I had as a child, like travelling the world and scuba diving. I learnt how to scuba dive in Thailand when I was 14 years old and soaked up the thrill of going to great depths of the water and observing marine life. In 2004, I took up diving in the UAE and have been unstoppable ever since.
Once male-dominated, scuba diving has seen a rise in female divers over the years, and the UAE is no exception. I made it my mission to create an all-women diving community in the country, a dream that I realised with the launch of Abu Dhabi Female Divers.
The platform offers women the chance to learn more about scuba diving, freediving and spearfishing, and engage in underwater activities both locally and regionally. Today, we’re a community of over 100 women who range from open-water divers to course directors.
The Abu Dhabi Female Divers community provides a space to learn, grow and take trips with like-minded individuals. The first rule of scuba diving is ‘Never dive alone’, and having this group ensures that we always have company under water. I’ve also created an ecosystem to support new divers—from getting their gear to offering a step-by-step beginners guide.
On the travelling front, I’ve visited 66 countries so far and my retirement plan is to live like a local in different locations around the world. From visiting Croatian architectural marvels in Pristina, Kosovo, to viewing the giant floating Victoria Amazonica lily pads in Phuket, Thailand, these experiences have shifted my perspective towards life. I plan on visiting Malta in the summer and have already laid out the ultimate Maltese bucket list.
I’m also the founder of Soul and Brain Juice, an exclusive community of more than 200 women who collectively engage in activities, such as book clubs, entrepreneurship communities and sports, to enrich the body, mind and soul. My hope is to keep up the communal spirit and expand our reach, as there’s no better joy than to support others with bringing their dreams to fruition.
Follow @R.almeraikhi, @Soul_brain_juice and @Adfemaledivers on Instagram.
This article was originally published in Villa 88’s Summer 2023 edition. Subscribe here.
Images courtesy of Rawdha Al Meraikhi.