Dr Moawiyah Saleh Al Shunnar
Dr Al Shunnar (in white shirt) with his wife Dr Zainab Kazim, his grandchildren, daughter Dr Amal and son-in-law Dr Michael Fakih. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Tributes have been pouring in for Dr Moawiyah Saleh Al Shunnar, a distinguished doctor of Palestinian origin in the UAE who died on Tuesday.

Taking to Twitter on Wednesday, Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, extended his condolences to the family of the late Dr Al Shunnar, whom he praised as one of the first doctors in the UAE who had contributed to the establishment of family medicine in Dubai and was keen to take care of people. Sheikh Maktoum added that the legacy of Dr Shunnar will remain firmly rooted in the memory of Dubai’s society.

Speaking to Gulf News, Dr Michael Fakih, a fertility expert and son-in-law of the late family physician, said that the late Dr Al Shunnar, had breathed his last at a hospital due to age-related reasons. He was 87.

Dr Shunnar was among the earliest health care professionals to come to the UAE in the early 1960s, dedicating his life to the serving UAE residents and citizens alike in government hospitals and in private practice.

Dr Mowaiyah Saleh Al Shunnar-1649843901416
Dr Moawiyah Saleh Al Shunnar was a distinguished doctor of Palestinian origin who vastly contributed to the establishment of family medicine in Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

Forerunner in family medicine

He was a forerunner of the modern healthcare practice of family medicine the UAE. His legacy has been the setting up of best practice at a time when healthcare services were in the early process of evolution. He gave the UAE a generation of doctors and medical professionals from his family. Today, his progenies and relatives are running a string of medical clinics in the UAE.

Dr Fakih said: “My father-in-law was a visionary who came from humble Palestinian origins, studied medicine in Egypt and moved to Dubai in the early 1960s.”

Tireless spirit

Sharing an anecdote of his dedication, Dr Fakih said: “Dr Al Shunnar had shared with me the story of setting up a clinic in Ras Al Khaimah. He worked in Dubai, but took special permission from the government to set up a basic clinic for the people of Ras Al Khaimah, who found it difficult to come to Dubai for medical assistance. In a small shop with a single light that he set up himself, he worked on weekends and round-the-clock to provide relief to the people there. He was a pioneer in many healthcare practices and created his own colposcope for examination of the cervix. This was just one of his contributions; he was a humble and dedicated soul.”\


In his tweet, Abdul Rahman bin Mohammad Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, mourned the death of Dr Al Shunnar. He hailed the contribution of the late doctor, describing him as one of the first doctors to practice medicine in the country in the private sector in the early 1960s. Al Owais extended his sincere condolences to the family of the deceased, praying to God to bless him with the vastness of his mercy and pleasure.

In a tweet from the Government of Dubai Media Office, the Dubai government extended its condolence to the Al Shunnar family. The tweet described him as “one of the first doctors in the Emirates and one who contributed to the establishment of family medicine in Dubai”. Dr Al Shunnar’s special compassion for people was appreciated. The tweet added that Dr Al Shunnar’s contribution would be forever conserved in the memory of Dubai’s society.

Dr Zulekha Daud, founder and chairperson of the Zulekha Health Care Group, paid a glowing tribute to the stalwart who was also her former colleague. She reminisced about the earlier days when she had a close association with the Dr Al Shunnar. “I had a close acquaintance with Al Shunnar and his wife since 1964 when we came to UAE. We worked together at the Kuwaiti Hospital back then. He was a very humble, social and respected doctor. I extend my condolences to his family and pray for the blessings of Almighty to be on his soul.”