Dr Maha Taysir Barakat, Medical & Research Director and consultant endocrinologist of ICLDC and Suhail Mahmoud Al Ansari of Mubadala Healthcare and chairman of ICLDC. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Exercise can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes by 58 per cent, a Consultant Endocrinologist at the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC) said yesterday.

During a meeting to announce the third Ramadan Football Tournament, which the ICLDC launches yearly as an alternative to preventive medicine for potential diabetics, Dr Maha Taysir Barakat, Medical and Research Director at the ICLDC and Consultant Endocrinologist, stressed that dieting without exercise does not fully protect a person from developing diabetes.

"Brisk walking for 30 minutes a day reduces a persons chances of developing diabetes, that's why it's terribly important for people to remain active throughout the year.

"I noticed that the minute students leave their schools and universities, and take up office jobs, they give up exercising. That's why we're launching this tournament, to encourage physical activity for the rest of society," said Dr Barakat.

Latest diabetes figures published by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) paint grim global pictures, indicating that people in low and middle-income countries bear the brunt of an epidemic, and that the disease is affecting far more people of working age than previously believed.

Recent IDF figures cited by Dr Maha suggest that 285 million people globally live with diabetes, with five GCC countries featured in the top eight countries in terms of diabetes prevalence. The UAE stands as the second highest diabetes prevalence world-wide, with an estimated 18.7 per cent of the population aged 20 to 79 affected by the condition.


"There are approximately 85 to 90 per cent type 2 diabetics across the UAE, and 10 to 15 per cent type 1 diabetics, and diverse number of people unaware that they have diabetes. However the good news is that 80 per cent of type 2 diabetes is preventable with increased physical activity and a healthy diet," said Dr Maha.

In partnership with Mubadala Healthcare, with the ICLDC's mission to draw public attention to the importance of regular exercise, the five-night "Play Sports. Live Healthy" football tournament, known as "Diabetes. Knowledge. Action" will take place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) for the first time since its launch.

"It's ideal to have the tournament indoors this year due to the hot weather. Also the nearby ADNEC Ramadan Festivals will encourage passers-by to come watch the tournament, and ask as many diabetes related questions as they wish," said Dr Maha.

In addition, Suhail Al Ansari, Associate Director, Mubadala Healthcare and Chairman of ICLDC, announced that the Al Ain Diabetic Centre is due to open its doors to the public by next year.

"Currently 18 to 20 per cent of ICLDC patients commute from Al Ain to Abu Dhabi to receive medical care.For that reason, Mubadala Healthcare has decided to increase their live healthy outreach in a five and a half thousand square metre diabetic centre, to be located next to Tawam Hospital, with 65 medical staff ready to assist up to 150 patient visits each day," said Al Ansari.

Tournament: event timings


  • 16 participating teams
  • 9:30pm to 12 midnight nightly leagues at the ADNEC (Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre)
  • August 22nd to 26th - Ramadan Football Tournament at the ADNEC
  • August 26th - Semi-finals and finals

Treatment of patients

  • 28,000 diabetes patients have received medical treatment from ICLDC since 2006
  • The ICLDC has reached out to 80,000 patients through its public health awareness campaign since 2006
  • 200 to 300 patients a day - average number of patient visits to the ICLDC Abu Dhabi a day