|The population in
the Arab countries comprises mainly of two
categories of people
should again be distinguished as 'Locals' (Vatni)
and 'White' (Abiyadi).
The local Arab is the son of the soil viz. the
Qatari in Qatar, the Bahraini in Bahrain etc.,
while the white Arab refers to the Lebanese,
Palestinians and Egyptians. Being better educated
but insecure, the white Arab's problems differ
from those of the contented well-provided local.
The Expatriate (who is in the majority) hails
either from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri
Lanka or the U. K., Canada, U. S. A. etc.
or Vatni Arabs were originally nomadic totally, a
few indulging in fishing and 'pearl diving'. With
the advent of oil, a fair number of these people
took up to business. Those who stayed away from
the towns continue to this day, living their
lives as their forefathers did and they are known
as 'Bedouins' (Badu).
It is interesting to note that there are many
similarities in the Bedouin's way of thinking and
that of our Indian villager. Firstly, he is
resigned to his fate, and once his mind is made
up that his illness is providential, he will make
no attempt to obtain relief.
attributes most of his ailments to "wind"
as his Indian counterpart would (Vath
or Vaayu). Another sensation that
the Bedouin Arab experinces is 'Heat' ("Harara").
just as many rustic Indians do (Garmaish).
saying is true that 'Influenza' will remain the
same in regard to its symptomatology, treatment
etc. whether one is in China or the South Pole,
there are certain conditions peculiar to the Arab
way of life.
The local Arab is mainly a meat and rice eater.
He looks down upon pulses and vegetables and is
very reluctant to introduce these in his diet.
Hence constipation and conditions related to it
like haemorrhoids, fissures, etc. are commonly
met with. The white Arab, however, has a mixed,
well-balanced diet and hence the incidence of
constipation is lower.
Of late, because of affluence and association
with Western society, alcoholism is on the
increase. The Bedouin has not yet taken up to
this vice. The successful Arab businessman is
more of a social drinker and mostly knows his
in general love to eat and thus obesity is a very
common condition which does not seem to bother
is very common among the younger set of local
Arabs, who, like their counterparts all over the
world, are out for kicks. Mandrax (Parke
Davis) though banned in the Gulf, is illegally
smuggled and eagerly sought after. Other
hypnotics and tranquillisers that are frequently
peddled are Mogadon (Roche), Valium
(Roche), Atwan (Wyeth), Moditen
(Squibb) and Nobrium (Roche). Hashish
addiction is on the increase.
agents like Apisate (Wyeth) and Dinnital
(Dlamant) are also freely taken at night parties
for their C. N. S. stimulating effect.
The dilemma of the Bedouin, married more
than once, is to satisfy all his marital partners
one after another in a single night's session or
else suffer the embarrassment of being called (by
his wives) sexually inadequate.-Another problem
is the failure of the aged Arab (average age 55
years) to cope with the sexual needs of his newly
acquired young bride (average age 17 years).
There is an increase in both these conditions,
but, limited to particular sections of the
community. The highest incidence is met with
among the homeless Palestinians and Yemenis. Next
come the poor Asian Expatriates, who are promised
much when signing the contract back home, but are
duped by agents and given a raw-deal.
It is still
a matter of great pride for the Arab brothers to
have their sons or daughters marry one another.
Such a marriage within the family members is the
possible etiological factor responsible for the
occurrence of idiocy and such other recessive
(chromosome linked) abnormalities and diseases
found among the local Arabs.
are diseases like hypertension and ischaemic
heart disease, both of which affect the local
Arab less commonly. They are, however, met with
in good measure among the white Arabs and
for the health care, Arabs used to visit Beirut
and Cairo. Since the wars brought discredit to
these places, they started visiting Europe,
especially London. For the last fifteen years,
Bombay has also attracted them. I feel that the
climate, food habits, cheapness (as compared to
European countries), entertainment, cosmopolitan
nature of the city and the best medical talent of
the country available here has increased Arab
traffic to Bombay at a very fast rate. How long
will this last is anybody's guess. Incidentally 'Miraj'
was the first 'town' in India to attract Arab
population more than twenty years back. Till
today many a "poor"
Arab still visits that place and the scars on
their body remind us of the name, fame and
respect which the Miraj missionary doctors had
created in their minds.
experience is based only on Arabs who come from
Gulf [Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and U.A.E.
(including Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras al Khymah and
Sharjah)], Saudi Arabia and Yemen (especially
Democratic Yemen) I have not generalised the
diseases as those seen in the Middle East. Also I
have the least experience of Kuwaitis because
most of them like to go to London for treatment.
Throughout the text I have put into brackets a
few important Arabic words which are not found in
the books, but which are used by these patients
or easily understood by them. Since Arabic
language spoken by Yemenis is different from rest
of the Arab countries, I have often used more
than one Arabic wordthe second one being
used by Yemenis.
advice to all doctors looking forward to seeing
Arab patients. When an Arab enters your clinic
be careful and prepare for the following:
Arabs like to greet you by shaking hands.
The difference between the English and
the Arab handshake is the "repeatedness"
of the act of shaking the hand. An Arab
shakes hands from moment to moment even
during the examination.
Arabs are very shy ("Hayaa")
patients. When you request them to remove
their clothes ("Libaas"),
please remember to close ("Siq")
the door ("Al Baab").
Even a grown up son of twenty will not
like to remove his shirt ("Kameez")
and trouser ("Patloon")
or his Arabic dress (of course with
underwear on) in front of his father! I
have never witnessed this much shyness to
expose the body! (May be a few more
public swimming pools in Arab countries
will change this attitude.) If a few
friends come together, you can see the
ticklish attitude of the friends, when
the patient is removing his clothes.
take credit for anything with an Arab,
who firmly believes that everything in
life from moment to moment is done by God
Therefore, in every sentence, you must
learn to join him in saying "Insha