When you think of the United Arab Emirates today, you may imagine the world’s highest skyscrapers, metropolitan cities bustling with 203 nationalities, and fast-moving business. This present day reality is made even more extraordinary in context. 

In 1959 in Al Ain, a district of Abu Dhabi the capital of the UAE (at the time the United Arab Emirates had not united yet, and they were still called the Trucial States), the population was in crisis. One in every two children, and one in every three mothers were dying in childbirth. Formal healthcare was virtually nonexistent and traditional practices were common. In November of 1960, a couple and their four children picked up and moved to Al Ain to build the city’s first maternity hospital. Pat and Marian Kennedy were Christian missionaries who were, at the time, living in Jordan, and after receiving an invitation from Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and his brother Sheikh Shakhbut, they arrived in Al Ain to a society in desperate need of modern healthcare.

Together, the Emiratis and the Kennedys built Oasis Hospital, the soon-to-be destination for patients from all over the region. For 15 years, the Kennedys devoted themselves to helping those who came to them in need, and forged an extraordinary bond to the region and its people along the way. Today, the Kennedys are still recognised and remembered by patients and staff at the modern-day Oasis Hospital— their work never to be forgotten.


photos from the kennedy family album


Episode Credits

Produced by Razan Alzayani, Hebah Fisher and Lilly Crown. Sound design by Mohamed Khreizat. 
Article written by Hebah Fisher.