Ras Al Khaimah’s ‘mother of medicine’ dies aged 80

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RAS AL KHAIMAH // Ruth Ash, the Englishwoman who ran the first hospital in RAK, has died at the age of 80 in her homeland.

“Mrs Ash was beloved by the people of Ras Al Khaimah for the medical knowledge and service she brought to the emirate during the 1960s and 1970s, and for the manner in which she went about her work,” the RAK government said.

“Her contribution is measured not just in what she achieved for her patients and for the standard of medical services, but in her reputation, which is still alive in the generations that followed. She was a true friend of RAK.”

Mrs Ash came to the emirate before the UAE was formed, in 1966, after being posted in Aden, Yemen. She was asked to set up the emirate’s first modern hospital where she worked as a nurse from 1966 until 1971.

She used to drive in a Land Rover to outlying communities under the protection of tribal sheikhs to combat polio, cholera and malnutrition.

Mrs Ash was given the nickname Mariam in her first week by the father of current RAK Ruler Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi. Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed gave her the name while at the hospital.

Representatives from RAK and the UAE attended her funeral in the UK.