The problem is so rife that the United Arab Emirates health ministry has warned of fake doctors claiming to serious illnesses and has claimed many are practising witchcraft.
The warning follows the unveiling of a bogus chiropractor who is facing prosecution for allegedly charging patients for treating their conditions with black arts.
Several Asians advertising alternative medicine online are also under investigation.
The health ministry warned these fake doctors expose patients to unhygienic procedures without the backing of safety measures and that many offer non-proven remedies that may include ingredients banned in the UAE.
Rogues and deceivers
“These rogues are deceiving patients and working for their own gain, mainly because the people who turn to them cannot afford the cost of conventional medical treatment,” said Amin al Amin, undersecretary at the Ministry for Public Health and Licensing.
Witchcraft is not only a problem in the UAE.
Recently a woman was stopped in a car at a Qatar border crossing and accused of transporting magic stones and other witchcraft paraphernalia.
In Saudi Arabia, 85% of witchcraft cases heard by courts involve expats – with the highest number in Makkah and Madinah.
Witchcraft is said to be so rife that the Saudi Haia – the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice – is training staff how to identify and track down sorcerers.
“We have taken measures to deal with witchcraft and magic across the country,” said a spokesman for the Haia.
Demon terrorises apartment block
A recent case involved a sorcerer advertising on Twitter.
“He was arrested selling a magic stone he claimed could stop evil, divert feelings of envy and promote love,” said the spokesman.
A court in Jeddah has sentenced an Asian religious teacher to four years in jail and 100 lashes for casting spells.
In one part of the city, several apartment blocks are empty as former residents claim to have seen a demon jinni in the buildings.
“I have seen jinn attacks,” said the local imam. “People are very scared of theses supernatural beasts that terrorise them as ghosts and trigger eerie incidents.”
Witchcraft and magic is not a belief limited to the Middle East.
In South Africa, the government is facing calls to stop the killing of old people accused of witchcraft because they have dementia or are ‘old and ugly’.
Allegations passed to the government suggest that elderly people who stare at others are often attacked and sometimes killed as witches because many do not understand the effect of dementia and Alzheimer’s.