Zulekha Daud: How Labourer's Daughter Became UAE's 1st Woman Doctor

Dr Zulekha Daud, UAE's first female Indian doctor, overcame challenges to become Dubai's wealthiest woman. Her journey, marked by resilience and dedication, led to transformative contributions in healthcare, symbolized by the Zulekha Hospital Group.

Lisha Kannan
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Image Sources from BBC

Zulekha Daud, at 84, is the Founder and Chairperson of Zulekha Hospital Group in the UAE. Raised in Nagpur, Maharashtra, she overcame financial challenges with a family emphasis on education. As the first female Indian doctor practising in the UAE, Zulekha's resilience led her to graduate in gynaecology from Nagpur's Government Medical College. Her father's unwavering support, despite being a daily wage worker, fueled her ambitions. Zulekha, Dubai's wealthiest Indian woman, received India's Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Award in 2019. Her journey from modest beginnings in Maharashtra to a prominent position in UAE's healthcare reflects themes of perseverance and dedication, defying odds for education. In a conservative Muslim family, her parents' liberal mindset paved the way for her success, embodying a life story of triumph against adversity.


From Maharashtra to Dubai

In 1964, Dr Zulekha made history as the first Indian doctor to practice in the UAE. Specializing in gynaecology, she delivered over 10,000 babies, leaving an enduring impact on Dubai's medical landscape. Beyond her expertise, she tackled various medical issues, from smallpox to viral infections, playing a vital role during the widespread malaria outbreak. Her dedication stood out in a city with few doctors as she addressed diverse healthcare needs.

Dr Zulekha's pioneering journey not only marked her professional success but also laid the groundwork for a medical revolution in the UAE. Her commitment to healthcare extended beyond specialization, showcasing a remarkable dedication to the community's well-being. Dr Zulekha's story resonates as a testament to her pioneering spirit, unwavering dedication, and the transformative role she played in shaping the early healthcare landscape of the UAE.

Establishing the Zulekha Hospital Group

In the early stages of Dr Zulekha's career in Dubai, she faced challenges due to limited facilities and technology. Essential diagnostic tools were absent, emphasizing the reliance on a doctor's skill. Acknowledging this gap, in 1992, she founded the Zulekha Hospital Group with a vision to provide advanced healthcare services. Beyond a business venture, it became a beacon of hope, addressing the community's health needs.

The hospital aimed to fill the void in healthcare, offering more than just medical expertise. Dr. Zulekha's initiative marked a turning point, transforming healthcare in the region. Her commitment to bridging gaps reflected not only professional acumen but also a deep sense of responsibility toward the community's well-being. Zulekha Hospital became synonymous with advanced treatments and care, enhancing the region's access to cutting-edge healthcare and standing as a testament to Dr Zulekha's dedication to health and hope.

Achievements and Recognition

At 84 years old, Zulekha Daud serves as the Chairperson and Founder of the Zulekha Hospital Group. As a former physician turned entrepreneur based in the UAE, she earned India's prestigious Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Award in 2019, recognizing her contributions to overseas Indians. Additionally, Zulekha Daud was acknowledged among Forbes Middle East's top 100 Indian leaders in the UAE.

WOMEN DOCTORS Dr Zulekha Daud Stories Of Resilience