He was a Gulf record-breaking free diver. He was training to partake in a local diving competition. The tragic death of Bassam Bakheet has left Saudi Arabia in a state of mourning.
On Thursday, Bakheet was reported missing during a training session in Jeddah. A search operation - which lasted more than 24 hours - was launched, and his body was eventually discovered 80 meters underwater. His body was buried on Saturday.
A master mariner, Ahmad Shaker, told Arab News that his daughter was diving at the 30-meter surface marker when "there was a sudden commotion at the 80-meter marker where Bassam had gone down."
"Someone from Bassam's team rushed over to my daughter's team and said that Bassam was missing. That was when my daughter called me for help," Shaker told Arab News. He then called the Border Guards as he rushed to the scene.
The depth where Bassam's body was found meant that it was impossible for a regular scuba diver to go down using normal compressed air. There's a special mix of air (Trimix) that is exclusively used for depth levels exceeding 40 meters. Trimix diving is not common in the kingdom and requires special training, so immediate help was not an option.
Several institutions in the kingdom provided specialist equipment to aid in the search; Border Guards supervised the search and worked with Saudi Water Sports and Diving Federation - both of which provided technical divers to assist in the search.
An investigation has been launched to determine the cause of death, as it remains unclear. The competition Bakheet was training for is one of the many activities scheduled to take place at the ongoing Jeddah Season festival.
In May 2017, Bakheet set a record for Gulf divers during a championship in Egypt. At the time, he dove 71 meters underwater without an oxygen cylinder or fins for two minutes and 56 seconds.