Friday, February 27, 2009

Medical Done!

Today was a busy day... I am heading off to London next Tuesday night and I needed to get things done here and I was travelling into Abu Dhabi today to our corporate head office to meet our CFO for the first time.  Important because he and I are heading to London together next week, so we better meet!

The meeting was scheduled for 2:30 and I got busy in the office getting ready for that and trying to get ahead of an already growing "To Do" list because next week would be partially lost to travel.  Then about 10:30, I am asked to attend a meeting of my whole department... so I go along thinking I had better things to do but its the monthly gathering where people talk about their projects and its a good chance for me to meet and learn about my colleagues.

An hour in, my mobile rings and its HR in Abu Dhabi.  Apparently I need to have my residency sorted before I travel to London otherwise I wont be able to come back into the UAE.  To do this, I need to go to the hospital and have my medical NOW.  Get in a cab and go NOW is the clear instruction but only after I have taken a copy of my passport and print the UAE Ministry for the Interior document that they have emailed me.  Weird seeing an official document with your photo on it but its 100% in Arabic.  I print it and take it.

So I grab my gear, my laptop, my time for doing my notes for the meeting are lost and I am being driven into the "Sheikh Kalifa Hospital" to the Department of Preventative Medicine.  Arriving at 12:45, I am told that I cannot go in as the 1pm session is full and to come back at 2pm.  They stamp my printed documents with a 2pm stamp and I sit in the waiting room.  I then notice that I am the only Anglo Saxon in the room as the waiting room fills up with Bangladeshis and Pakistanis who are coming to the UAE to be labourers.  I am looking mightily conspicuous in my suit, tie and blackberry.

2pm arrives and people start to file in.  I am given a number - 061 - and told to take a seat.  They are calling number 950 when I take my seat.  I am about 110th in the queue.  I pass the time by playing Brick Breaker on the blackberry and answering emails for the next 2.5hrs.  I have emailed the office and say I will be there when I can to meet the CFO but I am at the mercy of the hospital.  This doesnt seem to be an issue... so I wait and wait and wait.

Then my number is called!  Paperwork is processed and the clerk talks to me in great English but is chatting with his colleagues in Arabic.  It amazes me how people think and talk in multiple conversations in different languages.  I am charged 250 Dhs for the test and they take my photo like your drivers licence.  Papers are given to me and I have to go and have bloods taken, a chest xray and a chat to a physician... no need for any vaccinations for me though which was good.

I leave the room and go behind and am in a queue of about 50 Bangladeshis.  I am soon joined by an American (who has a Spanish passport for some reason) and we chat work stuff as he's a Mechanical Engineer working as a Project Management Consultant.  This conversation keeps going all the way thru the process right up to where we both have to strip off our shirts and stand in a queue for an x-ray.  The Bangladeshi in front of me had massive scars on his back as if he had been flogged sometime in his past and that was a bit confronting, but other than that we were chatting amicably with our shirts off in a hospital corridor.  Five at a time, we're taken into a side room and we are x-rayed one by one and then allowed to put our shirts back on.  My card had been stamped all the way along the process and it was given to me and I was free to go.

I made my meeting, got lost going from the hospital to the corporate office after I flagged down a cheap city cab and the guy couldnt speak English.  I showed him the address of where I had to go on my Blackberry, but he couldnt read either apparently!  LOL

So, at 4:30, I reached the office and had my meeting... the CFO was very friendly and it went well, no one was fussed I was 2hrs late because this is the UAE and shit happens :)

PS - Medical means residency granted in 2-3 working days (unless I have HIV!) so I will soon be able to embark on Stage 2 of this process - getting a car and a house!

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