UAE wooing leftist Israeli doctors with ‘golden visas’ amid judicial overhaul tensions

Emirati hospitals offer salaries three times higher than pay in Israel, should they agree to relocate to the Gulf kingdom.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Hospitals and medical centers in the United Arab Emirates are seizing upon Israeli doctors’ public disavowal of the judicial reform legislation and tempting them with attractive offers to relocate to the Gulf kingdom.

Last week, Israeli doctors declared a 24-hour strike as an act of protest against the cancellation fo the reasonability clause, and the largest union representing medical professionals in the country has repeatedly vocalized its concerns about the legislation.

According to Hebrew-language media reports, thousands of doctors are seeking relocation abroad due to their disapproval of the judicial reforms. Director-General of the Health Ministry, Moshe Bar Siman Tov, held an emergency meeting aimed at persuading doctors not to leave the country.

The internal strife has not gone unnoticed by the UAE, which inked a normalization agreement with Israel in 2020 and is one of the largest medical tourism destinations in the Middle East.

UAE-based clinics and hospitals are offering to sponsor Israeli doctors with so-called Golden Visas, according to a Channel 12 News report.

The visa provides holders with nearly all the privileges of Emirati citizenship. There are other incentives offered to Israeli doctors as well, including subsidized educational frameworks for their children and policies that permit medical professionals to begin working immediately, without undergoing internship periods or testing to convert their degrees or certifications.

Additionally, salaries for doctors are said to be a staggering three times higher in the Emirates than in Israel, Channel 12 reported.

Bahrain, which also joined the Abraham Accords in 2020, is said to be offering similar advantages to Israeli doctors interested in relocating to the country.

Notably, many Israeli doctors have cited the alleged threat to democracy posed by the judicial overhaul as fueling their desire to relocate abroad. The UAE, however, is a monarchy without standard democratic freedoms, including freedom of speech.

Doctors in Israel have complained for years about tough working conditions, including long shifts for interns and overcrowding in hospital wards.

Despite claims that lockdowns during the pandemic would relieve congestions in hospitals, numerous Israeli medical centers report regularly being over capacity, with patients sometimes being treated in beds placed in hospital corridors.

Currently, occupancy rates in internal wards are listed at 114 percent in Hadassah-Har HaTzofim Hospital in Jerusalem and 133 percent at Laniado Hospital in Netanya.