The visa medical
Back in the Dark Ages, when I moved to Dubai, going for your visa medical was an exercise in both patience and stamina.
First, you had to find your way to a hospital in the deepest depths of Deira. The hospital was, of course, in the middle of a one-way system with no parking within a one-mile radius, so you had to ditch the car and dodge the traffic as you scuffed through the sand in the scorching heat of a Gulf summer.
At the hospital, you’d be forgiven for thinking Michael Jackson was visiting: There would be crowds of men pushing and shoving outside. Once you got through them, there was a good few hours of queuing at various sweaty counters before you got anywhere near standing in the grimy corridor to wait for the actual blood test.
This, as I remember was a lot more of a bloody affair than it is these days. Once I was jabbed with the syringe while standing in the corridor; another time sitting down in a room but, with the door open and all the people in the corridor leering at me as I looked delicately away and thought of England (was it a clean needle? I didn’t dare ask).
There was even a blood bucket into which the excess blood was squirted; another bucket for used syringes. The whole thing, frankly, filled me with dread.
So yesterday I went for my visa medical – my sixth, if you want numbers. And what a joy it was – it took longer to walk from the car park to the health centre than it did to have the test. For those who’d like to know the easiest way to do it, here’s a step-by-step:
2) Click the link to apply for a temporary health card if you don’t already have one (if you do and you can’t remember the number, click and fill in the form anyway – it will retrieve your old number).
3) Go back to the original page and click “Apply for medical fitness” on the left-hand column.
4) Follow the steps – if you want a fast, no-stress option and money is not an object, click VIP service and opt for Safa Clinic.
5) Print out the forms after paying online. Take the documents listed plus two photos to your chosen testing centre.
I went to Safa Clinic – it said “executive employees and VIPs only” but I figured that I’m a VIP and executive employee to DH, really, and I didn’t mind paying the over-inflated fee (AED 690) for an easy experience. Go in, take a ticket, take your papers to the counter, do your blood test and skip off for a Park ‘n’ Shop sandwich.
It took me four minutes. And no blood bucket in sight.