Many foreign doctors see the United Arab Emirates as an amazing place to practice medicine. Recruiters promise an all expense paid arrangement that includes visa fees and a place to live. What lures foreign doctors the most is a tax-free income, which means one working in Dubai or Abu Dhabi will make 40% more than their American or European counterparts. However, the World Medical Association is warning doctors to think twice before accepting work in the UAE.
This all started in 2013 after a South African Dr. Cyril Karabus was arrested during his vacation stopover in Dubai. Karabus is retired but worked briefly as a pediatric oncologist in Abu Dhabi. While working there he treated a girl that suffered from leukemia. She passed away after her family refused a bone marrow transplant. Karabus was returning home to South Africa and passing through Dubai when he was arrested and charged with manslaughter.
After his arrest, Karabus was released on bail after five attempts but was not allowed to leave the country. After jumping through legal hurdles, Karabus was cleared of the charges, yet still had to wait seven months to receive his passport back. After the Karabus case, the American Medical Association expressed concerns about the safety of American physicians working in Dubai and other areas of the UAE.
These types of situations surrounding foreign doctors have happened before. Austrian doctor Dr. Eugen Adelsmayr was head of the surgical intensive care unit at a Dubai hospital from 2004-2009. In 2012, he was put on trial for the 2009 death of a quadriplegic patient that needed a permanent pacemaker. The hospital declined to pay for the pacemaker and when the patient died, Dr. Adelsmayr was charged with murder. It was alleged that there was forged translations of medical documents from English to Arabic that were presented by lawyers at his trial. Dr. Adelsmayr was allowed to travel home to be with his dying wife and has since refused to go back to Dubai where he has been found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. He warned others to avoid UAE saying “After what I went through and what is happening with Professor Karabus, I warn every colleague to avoid work in the UAE, especially in high-risk fields like the ED, ICU and OR.”
In 2012, an Indian doctor practicing in Abu Dhabi hospital was attacked with a kitchen knife by a patient that was upset over his treatment. The assailant was arrested, but unfortunately, the Indian doctor died of his injuries, which included multiple stab wounds to his abdomen. The UAE just doesn’t seem like the safest place to practice medicine for foreigners.
Foreign doctors are also warned to avoid working in Saudi Arabia, where a male doctor was shot by a woman’s husband for overseeing the birth of her child. The husband was upset that a male doctor saw his wife naked, as she was giving birth and acted out of “jealousy’.