UAE and Diabetes: One in Four Has It

According to Al Madani, stomach surgery can help, but he considers it with caution.

"Theoretically, [stomach surgery] is helpful, especially in cases of morbid obesity. But I am still for the natural way of reducing weight — exercise and eating right. Even if surgery makes faster results, we've seen dangerous complications."

The UAE has other practical answers to the question of how to curb diabetes.

Mubadala Development, a high-powered Abu Dhabi investment company that owns chunks of the investment firm Carlyle Group, and other U.S. companies, launched the Imperial College London Diabetes Center in Abu Dhabi. Specifically targeted to diabetes care, the facility brings all needed specialties under one roof, to tackle the disease and its associated maladies, from kidney disease, to eye disease, to heart problems.

With Dubai and Abu Dhabi as regional financial hubs, it's not surprising that diabetes is being viewed and addressed by some through an investment lens. In a "doing well by doing good" approach, Mubadala's Imperial College clinic breaks even.

It also helps stem potential losses of some $8 billion to the country's economy — the estimated cost in lost productivity — if the UAE's rate of diabetes continues unchecked.

But ultimately curbing diabetes in the Arab world depends largely on individual choices, as personal as what to eat and how to raise children.

"When I was younger, our play was all physical, we would play football in the streets. Now ... to be safe, parents prefer kids staying at home, playing computer and video games. Then, they serve them sweets, sandwiches, and cola," said Al Madani.

Mohamed Kadry contributed to this article.

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