Khalid Al Rubeaan

Khalid Al Rubeaan

King Saud University
Saudi Arabia

Title: Why three GCC countries are on the top ten countries for prevalence of diabetes: A close look into epidemiology, psychosocial and genetic factors


Khalid Al-Rubeaan is the Director of University Diabetes Center at King Saud University. He is working as a Consultant Endocrinologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at King Saud University. He is also the Chief Editor of Al-Sukari Magazine for Patient Education in the Middle East and the Head of Saudi National Diabetes Registry. He is the chief editor of International Journal of Diabetes Mellitus. Dr. Al-Rubeaan undertook his MBBS at King Saud University in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and finished his FRCP (C) at the Royal College of Physician and Surgeon of Canada from University of Alberta in Edmonton in 1988. He also finished his Certificate of Special Competence in Endocrinology and Metabolism in 1989 from the same University. His major interests are Endocrine Diseases with special interest on Diabetes Mellitus covering in all aspects, basic research, education, prevention and epidemiology. He was awarded the Arabian award for Diabetes Education 2001 and Novo Nordisk Research Merit Award in Diabetes 2002. Dr. Al-Rubeaan is a member of many Diabetes Associations and Federations and had numerous publications in the form of chapters and books or scientific papers covering many fields of diabetes. He is also past president of Pan Arab Group for the study of Endocrinology and Diabetes.


Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar are three Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries that are recognized recently to be among the top ten countries for high diabetes prevalence. Those countries have similar cultural, psychosocial and economic structure and they all belong to one ethnicity with similar pattern of lifestyle change over the last three decades. Diabetes prevalence have reached a soaring rate from around 6% in 1990s, to 24% in Saudi Arabia, 23.1% in Kuwait and 22.9% in Qatar. This sudden change in diabetes prevalence trend needs to be investigated for better understanding of this disease nature. All those countries share the same risk factors mainly obesity, high caloric intake and physical inactivity. They are also known for their high consanguinity rate that could have amplified the genetic factor specially when the Thrifty Gene Hypothesis is a high possibility. Growth rate in the Gulf states population is considered to be one of the highest globally, coupled with improved health services that had increased life expectancy from 53 years to 74 years through three decades which could be behind the increasing number of diabetic patients. There is a progressive increase in energy consumption that have exceeded 3000 kcal/person/day associated with increase in physical inactivity among GCC population. Other risk factors could also be behind the epidemic trend of this disease in this unique ethnic and geographic area. Future diabetes research focusing on this community may explore new avenues for better understanding of this disease etiology, risk factors and prevention strategies.