Dr. Zulekha Daud – Dr. Diplomat

2nd Dec, 2017

| by writesolutions

Dr Daud: A Women’s Doctor

Before Dr Zulekha Daud (76) became known as the owner and managing director of Zulekha Healthcare Group in Dubai and Sharjah, she was already famous as Mama Zulekha, the gynecologist who visited female patients at home for deliveries, as was, and still is the custom Dubai’s patriarchal society. Of course, Daud had to home visit a record 15,000 times, during the span of her long career as a gynae.

Today, Zulekha Healthcare Group boasts of a string of super-specialty hospitals, medical centres, educational institutes and pharmacies, dotting the much-changed healthcare landscape in the UAE and India.

Battling orthodoxy did not come new to Daud. Her parents, although unlettered fought hard against the mores of a Muslim conventional society to give higher education to their daughters, on an equal footing with their sons. Thanks to her parents’ long sight, Daud is today regarded as among one of the most influential business people of Indian origin, in the Gulf.

Zulekha Daud studied to become a gynecologist, but when she arrived in the UAE five decades ago she found herself in demand for everything ranging from snake bites to chicken-pox and sundry viral ailments. To be sure, she had no fancy medical instruments then, not even an X-Ray machine in Sharjah, or a pregnancy test kit. But she had her stethoscope, a few pain relievers and a torch in her bag. All she did, as midwives do was apply common sense – and Mother Nature, helped her along. Such was her popularity among her patients that once a patient in Bedouin got her to deliver a baby goat!

“In 1966-1967, a patient asked for help with his goat,” Dr Daud recalls. “I told him I was not a vet, that I didn’t know anything about goats. “You don’t have sympathy? Look at the pain she is in,” he said. So she took a look. The baby goat’s two legs were protruding out. “I took a gunny bag and just like we do in human beings, I did it for the goat,” she fondly recalls.

The happy owner of the goal exclaimed, ‘I told you that you can do it!”

Dr Daud was the first female Indian doctor appointed in the Trucial States. She and her husband, an ophthalmologist moved there in 1964 from the American Mission Hospital in Kuwait.  About her early experiences in Dubai, she recounts, ““Nobody wanted to work here. There were no proper roads, so we travelled over sand. It took my husband four hours to get to Ras Al Khaimah because they had to cross over when it was low tide.”

Learning Arabic language so she could freely converse with her women patients posed another big challenging. But the work ethics instilled in her, as a child, always came to her rescue.  “I enjoy speaking to patients and do what I can to help,” the good doctor recalls.

Medical facilities in those days was nothing to write home about, but undaunted, Dr. Daud established the ZED Vocational Training and General Shikshan Sanstha (ZEDVTGSS) in Nagpur, India, an institute that offers professional courses to meritorious students in and around her birthplace, and later set-up the Zulekha College in 2010 and an ultra-modern hospital in the memory of her parents – Alexis Hospital.

A true patriot, in her words “This country has been very good to me. I came at a time when people needed a doctor. I love this country. I feel that I’m a part of it.”

Her success mantra is “Caring genuinely and being honest in your duties, besides determination and the will to go on. Beyond the technology, besides the specialists, something more is needed – the magic of a caring touch.”

Golden words, those!


Radhika Sachdev

Content Strategist

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