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Iraqi expat Dr Ali Khayat with his 10-year UAE Golden Visa Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Leaving a war-torn country such as Iraq and finding a new home is hard on everyone.

However, when Dr Ali Khayat, an Iraqi specialist in family medicine, left his country and settled in the UAE in 2003, he didn’t know that one day the UAE will reward his duty as a frontliner during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Khayat has become one of the recipients of the 10-year UAE Golden Visa.

The 46-year-old doctor told Gulf News it was a special moment when he received a call from the Abu Dhabi government thanking him for his tireless efforts and service in the capital.

“It was a proud moment in my life when they told me that I was recognised to receive the Golden Visa. That was one of the happiest moments of my life,” said Khayat.

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Dr Khayat works at a government hospital in Abu Dhabi Image Credit: Supplied

Trying to find a new home

The father-of-one had worked in Dubai in early 2003 after leaving Iraq. He got married before he moved to Abu Dhabi where he has worked for a government hospital since 2006.

“I graduated from Iraq and practiced medicine. I was trying to find a new home due to the problems in my country. I worked as physician assistant in Dubai before I moved to a hospital in Abu Dhabi. Getting the Golden Visa means that I have a home to stay and develop my career,” he said.

Working 16 hours a day

When the pandemic struck the world in early 2020, Khayat was one of the first doctors called for duty as a frontliner in Abu Dhabi. He was part of the emergency department for COVID-19 and later worked in field hospitals across the emirate. “I covered workers’ accomodations and received patients round the clock. Suddenly I found myself working for up to 16 hours per day wearing protective gear all the time. Those were hard days as we faced an unknown enemy at the beginning, but we succeeded.”

Missing family

Dr Khayat used to stay at the hospital without seeing his family, sometimes for 40 days at a time. “Despite all of that I’m proud that I was a frontliner in the UAE that battled against the pandemic,” Khayat said.

After having the the Golden Visa stamped in his passport (and those of his wife and son) Khayat feels the responsibility of his duty has become heavier.

'I have a duty to serve the UAE'

“The UAE is my home and I have a duty to serve this country. I’m grateful as I and my family are living here safely and we feel protected. Getting a Golden Visa means a lot to me. It will give me more freedom and help us settle long-term in the UAE,” Khayat said.