I grew up in a little village in the center of Saudi Arabia; the village consists of 120 families and total of 600 citizens. Almost all the people there work as farmers including my father. During the summer, I used to help my family on the farm by mowing the lawn, driving the truck and with simple mechanics. After I finished my high school, I decided to go to medical school. The nearest one was in Riyadh, which has 6 million citizens. This change was a huge step in my life. After I finished my medical training, I joined King Faisel Specialist Hospital, and there I began to consider pursuing further post graduate training in the US. I live here with my wife, Malak, and two sons, Mohammed and Abdulrahman.
Why did you decide to become a doctor?
Ever since I was in elementary school, I was fascinated by the doctors and their position in the community. I used to simulate the doctor’s role with my younger brother, who eventually became a doctor as well. In addition, in our culture saving one life equals saving the world, so you can imagine how doctors were respected there.
What do you like about the Charlottesville area?
Charlottesville has everything you need from a city such as restaurants, coffee shops, and schools, without the city crowd and rush hours. Charlottesville has plenty of choices regarding outdoor activity, such as hiking, kayaking, skiing, playgrounds and parks, in addition to the Fridays After Five music in downtown mall during summer time. Since we came here in June, 2012, we have been in multiple places for hiking, an activity we have started to enjoy, though we had not done it before.
What opportunities do you have at UVa that made you choose us?
UVa has a strong reputation as a university in general and as a medical center in particular. UVa has a collaboration with my hospital back in Saudi Arabia in both clinical and research areast. In addition to the opportunity to work in primary, secondary and tertiary care facilities, which I need for my training in internal medicine, I will have opportunities to do basic as well as clinical research.
Proudest/greatest achievement outside the professional realm?
My wife and my two adorable sons are the greatest thing in my life.
What are you usually doing on the weekend or during your time off?
Weekends and days off are purely family times, and depending on the weather, we plan our weekend. We prefer outdoor activities if the weather allows us, otherwise we go to see a movie or play with our kids at home.
How did you meet your wife?
In my culture, most of the marriages are arranged, so my mother chose my wife for me. I met and got to know her after the engagement.
Favorite vacation or recreational activity spot?
Interlaken, Switzerland. I used to go there in the summer. It has a combination of beautiful green mountains, rivers, and lakes. The same things I like about Charlottesville are what I like about Interlaken.
Most admired person, and why?
Nelson Mandela. He fights for his and other’s rights and has never given up, despite all the obstacles.
Best advice anyone ever gave you?
To come to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, as it has a great university and a beautiful city.
What about you would surprise us?
I am a good cook. I used to cook for my friends in college. I created some great recipes back then, but not anymore.