x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

'I don't know what I'm going to see every day'

This much I know Dr Robert Erasmus is a specialist in family medicine and medical director at the Welcare Hospital in Garhoud, Dubai.

Dr Robert Erasmus came to Dubai five years ago. He is originally from Pretoria in South Africa.
Dr Robert Erasmus came to Dubai five years ago. He is originally from Pretoria in South Africa.

Dr Robert Erasmus is a specialist in family medicine and medical director at the Welcare Hospital in Garhoud, Dubai. He lives in Dubai with his wife. I was born on April Fool's Day, 1949, in a small town in South Africa called Brakpan, just east of Johannesburg. I'm not quite sure why I came to the UAE. But because I worked in Saudi Arabia for five years, we used to travel from Johannesburg via Dubai to Saudi Arabia. Dubai was, at that stage, an interesting place. We started travelling in 1996, and we came to Dubai in August 2003. The Welcare Hospital offered me a challenging position to start a department of family medicine.

Dubai has changed quickly. Especially with the increase in traffic. The positive aspect is that I think the roads have improved tremendously. We were away for a year in 2006, and on our return it was amazing to see what had happened, building-wise. But what impressed me the most was the movement in the road system. Now it's an absolute pleasure to go over Business Bay. When they started building it, I went there often to do some photography. I thought, what are these guys doing, they'll never build this bridge. But I was very pleasantly surprised.

Having grown up in South Africa, with all the wildlife and scenery, bird photography became my main interest. Later on - especially when we lived in Indonesia - I developed an appetite for insect photography. The best place I found was the desert. Early in the morning, I go to see how the dunes have changed. And the insects in the desert are amazing. So are the little animals and reptiles. I look at their footprints in the sand.

I get up at about a quarter to six in the morning. For many years - my wife and I have been married now for almost 37 years - I would get up and wake my wife with an orange juice. I would have a shower and she would prepare what I will wear that day. She decides on my shirt, trousers, socks and shoes - and I dare not disagree with her. We always have breakfast together, that's one of our rules. I like Weetabix with skimmed milk and a bit of honey, and a cup of coffee. My wife prepares my sandwiches and I come to the hospital, where I work an average of 10 hours a day.

In accident and emergency, what keeps me motivated is that I don't know what I'm going to see every day. If I was a cardiologist I would look at and listen to hearts all day. Recently I've been appointed medical director of the hospital, so I'm less involved in patient care and much more in administration, to look after the almost 100 doctors that work in the hospital. I'm very seldom unhappy, I'm a very content and happy person. I've been blessed with achieving all the goals in my life that I set for myself and my family. Happiness is to walk in the African bush, to go "hunting" with a camera. I enjoy fishing - the tranquillity of sitting next to a lake or a dam and waiting for a fish to come. I have few regrets - for the last 12 years I have been travelling, so maybe I neglected my family, or my two kids, but they are now well established. But there's nothing that I haven't done yet that I still want to do.

When I retire, I'm going back to Pretoria. That's still home. I don't really care where I'm buried - that would be the problem of the people I leave behind.