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On Studying Medicine in Qatar during 1970s

 

 

This is an interview done by Mohammed Al-Tamimi and Ali Al-Ailah with Dr. Omar Al-Tamimi to get a perspective on medical studies in Qatar about thirty to forty years ago.

Interviewer: Mohammed Al-Tamimi and Ali Al-Ailah.
Interwiewee: Omar Al-Tamimi

Mohammed: So how did you study medicine in the past?
Dr. Omar Al-Tamimi: Studying medicine was really a challenge those days talking about 30 40 years ago. It was a dream for a lot of students to study medicine, not only from the prestigious aspect it is really something very good. Also, there was a need and demand to have a local Qatari doctors. So the government was doing all what is possible to actually encourage students to study medicine. I was really lucky to have a good grade in my high school. And I was given the options of studying medicine or even anything else, but since I have always wanted to study medicine I was also given the choice of where to study, and I decided to go to Ireland. It is a great challenge of course, but it is manageable, if you have the will and determination everything is possible.

Ali: OK .. Based on the fact that studying medicine is hard and difficult, how strong was the education level at the high school? The syllabus was the same? Did they prepare you to have a good education without any difficulties or obstacles?
Dr. Omar Al-Tamimi: The major obstacle was not really how hard the topics were of the scientific part of it, it was the language. We had major transition in a sense that we used to study the subjects like chemistry, Biology, math all in Arabic. So everything was purely Arabic. Even the formulas that we used to study they were all in Arabic, even Arabic alphabets. So the biggest or major difficulty was actually to change from Arabic to English, and that where we were concentrating on actually studying English language. Although that I had good you know achievement and marks in my English exams, but they were not good enough to be able to study other subjects in English and to be able also to write in English, to be also able to speak in English. So that needed sometime. So that actually required us to spend some time to concentrate on English Language. But that did not really last long. Being in a country and trying to study its language is easy.

Ali: It is easy!!
Dr. Omar Al-Tamimi: Yes it is nothing compared to studying somebody else’s’ language when you are at home. Because the circumstance, the environment are all helpful. Anything you do is learning the language, you watch tv is learning the language, you read papers is learning the language, you walk around the street asking for directions is also practicing and learning the language. So it did not took me a lot of time to be able to learn the language and to speak and to practice it, but I needed that to be able to study medicine. As far as the the syllabus, regarding the level or standard of the different subject we studied, I don’t think that we laid much behind. In fact in math we were very advanced, so when we actually moved there in the first year when we did everything I had no difficulties what so ever especially in math because math was very advanced. Biology and Physics and chemistry they were ok, it is basically just changing from the terms that we used in Arabic into English at probably some more information, but it was not a big deal.

Mohammed: So obviously being a medical was something great in the past, because there were not any university or school offer medical courses so you managed to study medicine well. So how was the impression of your family-friends for you being a medical doctor?
Dr. Omar Al-Tamimi: Yes very good. The thing is as you said quite rightly, it is something was not really common to people studying medicine. And as you said also, there were no medical colleges in Qatar. So to actually have the effort to travel abroad, to be living in a different culture and environment than home and to study in a different language than the language that had been a custom to in what you were doing in high school is a big challenge. But the reward that your family is being proud of you. You have made a sacrifice, you have made an effort, and you have achieved it and came back after all as a medical doctor now. The duty now is to have an an input for the country. If you want to treat the patients and to take your role as an active member. They were very proud, they were very pleased, and I was also pleased to have that reaction and that was the impression of them.