Some 906 genetic disorders have been identified in the Arab population, with about 200 common among Arabs in the GCC, the latest research shows.
According to a report in the National, Arabs suffer from one of the highest rates of genetic disease in the world.
Dubai-based Centre for Arab Genomic Studies (CAGShas found 241 different disorders in Arabs and expatriates combined in the UAE. A total of 119 are specific to Emiratis.
The centre is building a database on genetic disorders, which it hopes will lead to increased research and treatment.
"Why build this database? It gives us a bird's-eye view of each country on genetic diseases. Some are epidemic and some very rare," Dr Ghazi Tadmouri, the assistant director of the CAGS, told the paper.
The blood disorder Thalassaemia, diabetes, and breast cancer have reached epidemic levels in the UAE, Oman and Bahrain, where there are more than 100 cases per 10,000 people, the paper reported.
The majority of genetic disorders in Arabs are due to marriage between close relatives, like first cousins, a practice deeply ingrained in the culture.
In Dubai, 40 percent of marriages are between relatives, while in Al Ain they account for 54 percent, and in Abu Dhabi 32 percent, the most recent figures show.
Dr Tadmouri told the paper more needed to be done in early detection of genetic disorders, like screening potential spouses and pre-natal detection.
Emirati couples are routinely screened for thalassaemia in the UAE.