ABU DHABI // Dr B R Shetty announced that he will build the capital’s first medical university in honour of the UAE’s Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed.
“I wanted to announce this on the anniversary of his death,” said the businessman, founder and chief executive of NMC Healthcare and UAE Exchange.
“I came to this country without anything – penniless – I made my fortune here and I owe it all to the blessings of Sheikh Zayed.”
Dr Shetty, who said he would invest “at least $2 billion” in the project, said that Sheikh Zayed’s dream was to provide affordable, high-quality medical care and education for all.
“I’ve been working for six years to realise his dream and I am close to achieving it and honouring his wishes by building this university. It is the least I can do for a man who has done so much for everyone.”
Dr Shetty said that Sheikh Zayed was “my father, my mentor, my guru. The day he died, the whole world mourned”.
The university, which will be run in conjunction with either Duke University in North Carolina or the University of California, San Diego, will be open to Emiratis and expatriates.
“There are 200 nationalities in this country so it is important to have a university that is open for everyone and not just for UAE nationals. We hope that we will have students from the GCC and overseas,” Dr Shetty said.
He hoped that the university would be ready to accept students sometime next year depending on how long it took to obtain a licence.
Dr Mounir Soliman, assistant vice-chancellor at UC San Diego, said they were “ready to share our experience and expertise to develop a state-of-the-art research-based medical university in the UAE”.
He said that his school had a track record of collaboration with the UAE and Abu Dhabi.
“We see that there is a great opportunity for building an institution for education and research there.
“This will give Abu Dhabi the opportunity to transform health care and to build on science and research that is very much needed in that part of the world.”
He hoped that the university would be open within two years, but that would depend on factors such as funding.
The university will have a health science school, a medical research centre and teaching hospitals, he said.
“We will be building on the success of other things that are happening in Abu Dhabi – the movement to help out in the standardisation of graduate medical education in Abu Dhabi. We will be leveraging on that,” Dr Soliman said.
Dr Shetty said that the the university would be a fitting tribute to Sheikh Zayed.
“What I achieved in this country I could not have achieved anywhere else in the world,” he said.
He first came to Abu Dhabi in 1973 and worked as a door-to-door salesman. This year, Forbes magazine estimated that Dr Shetty was worth Dh7.7 billion.
“It was the right platform, business idea and environment and most importantly, I was a student of Sheikh Zayed. I decided to dedicate myself to this country and he blessed me,” he said
Dr Shetty started the country’s first private clinic in 1975 with his wife working as a doctor in the same practice.
“I am not a moneymaking machine. I offer quality service and I know that if you keep quality in mind money will follow. This is my dogma.” he said.
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