In collaboration with the Union of Arab Doctors and Pharmacists in Austria headed by Doctor Tammam Kelani and the Arab Medical Union in Europe (ARABMED) headed by Doctor Faidi Omar Mahmoud, the National Arab American Medical Association ((NAAMA), headed by Doctor Elie Azrak, opened its 27th International Medical Convention at Hilton Hotel in Vienna for the first time in a European country.
Dozens of US and European doctors attended the conference which lasts from June 29 to July 4, 2013. A special guest of the event is Univ. Prof. Dr. Thomas Szekeres, President the Union of the Austrian doctors in Vienna, the most important medical association in Vienna, which counts over 3 thousand Austrian doctors as its members, who was invited to the opening ceremony of the 27th NAAMA convention.
Unfortunately, the opening ceremony of the NAAMA conference varied from the protocol usually employed at openings of other international conferences. In Austrian culture, certain formalities are expected in professional circles and at conferences, and to omit such formalities is highly unusual in a city and country where international conferences take place throughout the year. Vienna is host to many major international organizations, including the United Nations and OPEC.
In the words of an attendee, the participants were introduced and acquainted with each other rather informally, “as if they were tourists strolling the streets, called by the guide to listen to their instructions”.
For example, the highly respected Dr. Szekeres was not introduced in a way commensurate with his position, for what the European participants later apologized. Other participants were overheard commenting in less than amused terms about some American colleagues attending the conference sessions in shorts and t-shirt, attire appropriate for a beach but not for a professional conference.
Having attended several of the conferences organized by ARABMED, the difference in formal attitude were obvious even to me. While former at conferences all the Doctors attended dressed in dark suit and tie, this time many persons could be seen in informal dress, a rainbow of colors in the hall.
If the past conferences organized by ARABMED can be used as a reference, I am sure that future conferences of the doctors will help bring their American colleagues closer, not only professionally but also in working culture.