"This region (the Middle East and North Africa) is the cradle of civilisation as well as the origin of mankind. It is here that human civilisation started 6,000 years ago."
With these words Dr Adbulaziz Al Rahji sent out a message to the 10,000 delegates from 136 countries attending the World Ophthalmology Congress 2012 in Abu Dhabi, that ophthalmology has to look to a global audience if it is to develop.
This is the first time that the WOC had visited the MENA region and Dr Al Rahji and his colleagues will be hoping that it will not be too long before it returns.
At a spectacular opening ceremony in the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), Dr Al Rahji, said that ophthalmogists in the region had a past that they were proud of and a bright future that had brought them to WOC 2012.
They had come together to focus on science, he said, and to work together to improve the quality of life of their patients. Many individuals, he said, had worked together to make sure that the delegates attending the Congress would leave the meeting with greater scientific knowledge and a positive cultural experience.
EuroTimes talked to Dr Al Rahji, president of WOC 2012, on the day before the close of the meeting on Monday February 20 and he said that the feedback that they had received from delegates had been very positive. "We are happy that we managed to provide a high quality scientific programme with a good meeting facility, " he said. "One of our main aims was to give delegates a flavour of the culture of the region, so the congress has been scientifically enriching and also socially rewarding."
As one congress ends, the work begins on another. The venue for WOC 2014 is Tokyo, Japan.