Perceptions and attitudes towards medical research in the United Arab Emirates: results from the Abu Dhabi cohort study (ADCS) focus group discussions

How do people in the UAE perceive medical research? What motivates people in the UAE to participate in research, particularly longitudinal studies where follow up is a key feature? In 2015, a qualitative study utilizing focus group discussions and involving participants from the UAE community who resemble the target population was conducted. Participants join studies for varied, complex reasons, notably altruism and personal relevance. Based on these insights, we propose specific actions to enhance participant recruitment, retention and satisfaction in the UAE Healthy Future Study. We identified a number of opportunities to improve participants’ research experience and offer potential interventions for consideration/ Research Awareness.

El Obaid, Yusra, Aisha Al Hamiz, Abdishakur Abdulle, Richard B. Hayes, Scott Sherman, and Raghib Ali. “Perceptions and attitudes towards medical research in the United Arab Emirates: results from the Abu Dhabi cohort study (ADCS) focus group discussions.” PLoS One 11, no. 3 (2016): e0149609

The AGE-RAGE axis in an Arab population: the United Arab Emirates Healthy Futures (UAEHFS) pilot study

Obesity, diabetes and heart disease result in the death of millions every year as reported by the WHO. Most of these deaths occur in the low- middle income countries. The UAE has rapidly evolved from semi- nomadic society to a flourishing high income society, which introduced a new lifestyle (high energy food consumption and low physical activity). These rapid changes resulted in the increase of the rates of obesity and diabetes among the population. This is what motivated researchers to investigate about the metabolic mechanisms and biomarkers such as AGE (Advanced glycation endproducts) and RAGE (receptor for AGE). AGE -RAGE is highly related to obesity and are mostly expressed in the adipose tissues. Previous studies showed that RAGE expression increases in adipose tissue and in diabetic status. In the UAE Healthy future study, we aim to understand the causes of these common metabolic diseases in a prospective manner and identify predictive biomarkers. They found that lower levels of esRAGE were associated with obesity and risk of metabolic syndrome. Moreover, no significant association between CML- AGE and BMI, WC/HC or diabetes status were observed.


Inman, Claire K., Abdullah Aljunaibi, Hyunwook Koh, Abdishakur Abdulle, Raghib Ali, Abdullah Alnaeemi, Eiman Al Zaabi et al

The UAE healthy future study: a pilot for a prospective cohort study of 20,000 United Arab Emirates nationals

The UAE is faced with a rapidly increasing burden of non- communicable diseases including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The UAE healthy future study (UAEHFS) is a prospective cohort study designed to identify associations between risk factors and disease outcomes amongst Emiratis. The study will enroll 20000 UAE nationals, aged ≥18 years. Environmental and genetic risk factors will be characterized and participants will be followed for future disease events. As this was the first time a prospective cohort study was being planned in the UAE, a pilot study was conducted in 2015 with primary aim of establishing study feasibility. Overall, 517 Emiratis (mean age: 32 ± 10.7) for males and (30 ± 9.9) for females participated and 90%, 82.2% and 94.4 % of them completed the questionnaire, physical measurements and provided samples, respectively. The prevalence of diabetes and hypertension as well as the levels of cholesterol were higher amongst males. The results show the importance of the UAEHFS and its feasibility to recruit 20000 UAE nationals with a high completion rate.


Abdulle, Abdishakur, Abdullah Alnaeemi, Abdullah Aljunaibi, Abdulrahman Al Ali, Khaled Al Saedi, Eiman Al Zaabi, Naima Oumeziane et al

Patterns of tobacco use in the United Arab Emirates Healthy Future (UAEHFS) pilot study

This study is the first in the region to gain an accurate measure of the current smoking status among the Emirati population in Abu Dhabi through self-reported responses with objective urinary cotinine measurements. Overall, 36% of men and 3% of women reported smoking tobacco based on survey responses compared to 42% of men and 9% of women based on biochemical confirmation results. 32% of smokers used two different tobacco products, whereas 6% of smokers used more than two tobacco products at the same time. Tobacco smoking rates in the UAE are higher than previously thought. Misclassification of smoking status was more common than expected, presumably due to cultural reasons.


Al-Houqani, Mohammed, Andrea Leinberger-Jabari, Abdullah Al Naeemi, Abdullah Al Junaibi, Eiman Al Zaabi, Naima Oumeziane, Marina Kazim et al

Incense Burning is Associated with Human Oral Microbiota Composition

Our findings reveal that incense burning is associated with changes in the diversity and composition of the oral microbiota and that even low exposures to incense use affects the relative abundance of several taxa, including Streptococci, the most abundant organisms of the oral microbiota. The observed changes may serve as a biomarker of exposure to incense use toxicants and may be related to oral health.  Since the practice of burning incense has been and is currently globally used in many different contexts (i.e. spiritual and religious ceremonies), determining and understanding its health effects is essential to establish and implement proper global policies for its use.


Vallès, Yvonne, Claire K. Inman, Brandilyn A. Peters, Laila Abdel Wareth, Abdishakur Abdulle, Habiba Alsafar, Fatme Al Anouti et al

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