I've always been both attracted and apprehensive about the ocean at the same time. I couldn't swim but I loved watching the water. At 37, I decided to learn how to scuba dive in Caesarea.
I loved it. It felt like floating in space. So calm and serene. One of my fellow divers told me I should go diving in the Red Sea. So I went diving at Almog Beach and fell in love so deeply that I started coming almost every week.
For years I worked as a bookkeeper for an accountant and at a college in my native Baqa Al-Gharbiyye. When they started cutting my hours, I decided to quit. I looked for another job and then thought to myself, "why not turn my hobby into a profession?"
I contemplated for a month, and in the end, I decided to move to Eilat. It's not easy for a single woman in the Arab sector to move out and live by herself in another city, but my parents accepted it.
At first, my mom was worried about what other people might say, so I told her: "Mom, I'm 37 and single. I feel trapped here and I need to meet new people. I dedicated my entire life to home and work but I've never done something for myself."
I rented an apartment in Eilat and started working behind the counter at Zara and moonlighted at a café. Today, I run the café at Almog beach.
Diving opened me up to a whole new life. I had friends. My old friends have cut me off but I respect everyone. In the beginning, it was a bit awkward for my family because people asked questions but now things are fine. I speak to my mom three-four times a day, and also my two brothers, both of whom are married.
When I was younger I dreamed of having a family, but at this age, I think that ship has sailed.
Today I think that committing to another person will only limit me, and I've already gotten used to my freedom, my peace. Not every man will let me go diving either, especially in the Arab sector.
I have also come to terms with the fact that I will probably not have children. I enjoy my siblings' children and that satisfies me completely. For a moment I didn't consider having a child out of wedlock, it's not allowed [in the Arab sector] and I respect my family.
I felt like taking pictures of what I see in the sea when diving, and I bought myself a tiny GoPro camera, the smallest there is.
I just wanted to document my dives, I didn't intend to become a photographer, but people around me people really loved my photos. One of them wrote: "You capture images with great composition. Shouldn't you be holding a professional camera?"
It took me almost two years before I bought a professional camera and went to study underwater photography with Boaz Samorai, a well-known photographer around Eilat.
I completed my first course and then bought another camera. I followed that up with a second course, this time with Eitan Ben Tzvi.
I began sharing all of my works on Facebook and underwater photography websites and got incredible reactions from people.
I now have the privilege of featuring in the Red Sea Diving Festival, a major attraction for divers from all over the world, which will take place from November 17 through 19 in Eilat.
It will feature more than 40 photos taken by the festival's organizers Boaz Samorai and Noam Kortler, as well as snaps shot by Tony Malmquist, who died this year, and Raja Juri, a great underwater photographer from Jordan, and also yours truly.
Now that I'm a part of it, I can whole-heartedly call myself an underwater photographer, and the first underwater photographer in the Arab sector.
I fulfilled one dream but there are still more. I'd love to dive in the Maldives, Philipines and Mexico and take photos there. These are my goal and I will achieve them. It might take time but I'll get there.
Like my mom always used to say: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.