In December 2014, my travels took me to Dubai to speak at the Excellence in Pediatrics (EiP) Conference and chair a Summit on Active Healthy Living. Dubai is located in the southwest corner of the Persian Gulf and is a member of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE consists of seven Emirates with Dubai being the most populous, while the capital and largest Emirate is Abu Dhabi (about 80 miles away). The discovery of oil in Dubai in the late 60’s helped fuel a massive expansion that saw it become a global city and business hub of the Persian Gulf region. The city is particularly known for its large construction projects, such as the indoor ski resort at the Mall of the Emirates and its towering skyscrapers, including the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. Dubai is an amazing place to visit, with incredible hotels, restaurants and shopping that very much reminded me of Las Vegas – not to mention it has great beaches to go along with the skiing!
The Excellence in Pediatrics conference is a global meeting with a focus on the prevention and treatment of disease in children. Both the attendees and faculty come from all over the world and a major focus of the meeting this year (and last) was on the promotion of Active Healthy Living for kids and their parents. And this was the theme of the Summit I chaired this year, which included a diverse group of physicians and scientists, mostly from the Middle East, with an interest in promoting physical activity among children.
It is well known that children who are active are more likely to grow up healthy and continue to be active as adults, with much lower rates of chronic disease and premature mortality. It was exciting to hear the perspectives and challenges faced by my colleagues from all around the Middle East and beyond, which are not unlike mine in the United States. It is clear we are all challenged by the chronic diseases that result from a sedentary lifestyle and this group was very receptive to using an exercise vital sign and promoting walking among pediatric patients and their parents.
As always, I made sure to do a lot of walking while in Dubai. The city has a handy Metro system that was a short walk from my hotel and made it easy to travel around town and get to the Mall of the Emirates. While at the mall, I of course had to go skiing, just to say I did it and I found the snow conditions amazingly good. They rent you a jacket, pants, skis, boots and poles and I was able to ski for 2 hours and had a lot of fun, despite the fact that the outside temperature was over 85 degrees F! I also got the chance to visit the observation deck near the top of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building and tallest observation tower as well. As you might expect, the views were spectacular.
I hope this blog post finds you well and walking every day. It is the single best thing you can do for your health.
All the best!