Thursday, August 28, 2008

Blood, Needles and Queues

One of the ridiculously long stages in getting your visa in Dubai involves having a medical. This essentially means a chest x-ray and blood test.

I set off for Bur Dubai hospital with a couple of colleagues, following our company PRO (this is the person who sorts out your visa) in rush hour traffic across the city. An interesting journey made slightly frantic by said PRO’s driving – how do you expect me to follow you when you’re cutting up other drivers? And the fact that my petrol light started flashing the moment we left the building. Hey ho!

The hospital was a dusty old low-rise building that looked like it had been built in the 50’s. I consoled myself with the thought that surely the MRSA bug cannot survive 50 degree heat.

We then spent the next 2 hours mainly queuing, as our PRO ran from place to place picking up forms, getting forms stamped, picking up more forms, getting more forms stamped. But the best bit is this: if you’re a woman, you get complete preferential treatment. You can jump the queue, and if any man so much as jostles you, a very stern woman shouts at the top of her voice: “Can all the men PLEASE leave the room!” Genius.

As the entire hospital was filled with approximately 10, 000 Indian construction workers, and I was the only white, western, blonde, six foot woman (wearing silver wedges, naturally) you can imagine this queue jumping was the cause of much fascination.

Had a slightly wobbly moment when I realized that the blood test did not involve going into a room one by one – how stupid of me! But instead all sitting in one room, gathered round tables, so as you are waiting you can see blood and needles all over the place. Likewise when your turn comes everyone can stare at your horrified face as you try to avoid looking at said blood and needles.

So, who knows how long my visa will now take? It’s Dubai, it’s a million dollar question!

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