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  • In general, people from the Arabian Gulf countries have similar cultures, habits, beliefs, and practices.

  • The medical beliefs and practices of people from these countries are the result of their rich history, tribal traditions, and the involvement and importance of religion in all aspects of life.

  • Understanding and respecting these beliefs can facilitate communication with patients from these countries, as well as positively impact health outcomes and treatment.

  • Certain cultural traditions may impact the patient–physician relationship, particularly between members of the opposite gender. Physicians should be aware that a refusal by the patient to touch, maintain eye contact, or speak directly to a member of the opposite gender should not be considered insulting. Patients may prefer to be treated by a member of the same gender; if this is impossible, the patient may request that a family member or a nurse/interpreter of the same gender be present during the consultation.

  • Consanguinous marriage rates in the Arab Gulf countries are among the highest in the world. This may result in increased incidence of autosomal recessive disorders and atopic diseases.

  • Physicians should understand and respect religious practices that may impact healthcare, such as fasting during Ramadan, daily praying, and the prohibition of certain haram food products.

  • Traditional Arabian healthcare treatments include hijama (cupping/bloodletting) and kaiy (cautery). Many older patients may still use these procedures or may bear scars from past treatments.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a political and economic union of the Arab states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates [Figure 9-1]. These states are also sometimes referred to as the Arabian Gulf countries. People from these countries display a great degree of similarity in their cultures, habits, beliefs, and practices. This similarity may be influenced by the shared language of Arabic, the prevailing belief in Islam and its traditions, and the common history and geographical environment of these states. The economic standards of these countries are among the highest in the world. As a result, people from these countries often travel to the United States and Europe; the reasons for travel may include business, tourism, education, or training, as well as a desire for medical treatment.


Arabic states are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The region is also called the Arabian Gulf.

Although people from these countries are Arabs and Muslims, they may differ from the Arab and Muslim immigrants living in the United States because they may not have adapted to the culture and healthcare system of the United States. The middle-aged and older generations of this cultural group are particularly bound to their local culture, beliefs, and habits. Healthcare providers may face challenges when dealing with patients from these countries because they may have unique cultural and religious beliefs. To provide improved clinical care, ...

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