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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 October 2019

Mama Zulekha, UAE's first Indian doctor, receives golden card visa

The Zulekha Healthcare Group founder is the latest person to join the country's long-term residency scheme
Dr Zulekha Daud was honoured for her contribution to medical care in the Gulf by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation. Courtesy Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy

The UAE's first Indian doctor received a golden card visa as she was honoured for her sterling service to the country's healthcare sector.

Zulekha Daud, 81, affectionately known as Mama Zulekha, witnessed not only the birth of a nation but delivered about 10,000 children during her 55-year stay in the Emirates.

The chairwoman of the Zulekha Healthcare Group founded two hospitals in Sharjah and Dubai, cementing her legacy in a nation which became "home" to her and her family.

“This has been my home for decades and we are privileged to be a part of this progressive nation and [to] play a key role in the well-being of the UAE residents as healthcare pioneers,” Dr Daud said.

“The UAE and its leaders have been very benevolent and supported all our endeavours to date, because of [them] we have been successful in establishing a world-class healthcare system.

“I am grateful for the long-term visa privilege given to us. This makes us more responsible for the nation’s well-being as healthcare professionals and we will do our best.”

A gynaecologist, Dr Daud moved to the Trucial States, as the UAE was then known, in 1964 from the American Mission Hospital in Kuwait.

She treated everything from snakebites to chickenpox outbreaks during the years when medical facilities were basic and doctors travelled for hours on sandy stretches to reach small clinics in Ras Al Khaimah, Dubai and Sharjah.

Her daughter, Zanubia Shams, 48, co-chairwoman of the group and son-in-law, Taher Shams, managing director, also received the ten-year, golden residency visa.

Dr Zulekha Daud, her daughter Zanubia Shams and son-in-law Taher Shams received golden card visas that entitle them to reside in the Emirates for the next 10 years. Courtesy Zulekha Hospitals  

Ms Shams said the government decision renewed the faith of businessmen in the country.

“This is a heartening first step and reflects [the fact] that the people in the UAE are listening to expatriates and understand how our needs have evolved," said Ms Shams, who was born in Sharjah and has lived here for most of her life.

"This is a building block to solidify our businesses. We are committed to the country but, to an extent, this is a resolution of how to keep a multi-generational presence in the UAE.

"The UAE understands that this was needed from their end to keep our interest intact as expatriate investors.”

Dr Daud was honoured last year by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, for her contribution to medical care in the Gulf.

She was among foreign nationals recognised as part of the Year of Zayed celebrations.

Dr Daud was also awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, a prestigious award for non-resident Indians for her work in helping the poor in her native city of Nagpur, in India’s western Maharashtra state.

The golden card is a long-term residency scheme announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, that aims to boost the investment of entrepreneurs, businessmen, doctors, foreign investors and other specialists.

Sheikh Mohammed announced in May that 6,800 investors and residents – worth an estimated Dh100 billion and from 70 countries – were chosen to receive the visa.

Updated: September 15, 2019 08:49 PM