Spectrum of genetic disorders and gene variants in the United Arab Emirates national population: insights from the CTGA database

Sami Bizzari, Pratibha Nair, Sayeeda Hana, Asha Deepthi, Mahmoud Taleb Al-Ali, Lihadh Al-Gazali, Stephany El-Hayek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Like many other Arab countries, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a relatively high prevalence of genetic disorders. Here we present the first review and analysis of all genetic disorders and gene variants reported in Emirati nationals and hosted on the Catalogue for Transmission Genetics in Arabs (CTGA), an open-access database hosting bibliographic data on human gene variants associated with inherited or heritable phenotypes in Arabs. To date, CTGA hosts 665 distinct genetic conditions that have been described in Emiratis, 621 of which follow a clear Mendelian inheritance. Strikingly, over half of these are extremely rare according to global prevalence rates, predominantly with an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance. This is likely due to the relatively high consanguinity rates within the Emirati population. The 665 conditions include disorders that are unique to the Emirati population, as well as clearly monogenic disorders that have not yet been mapped to a causal genetic locus. We also describe 1,365 gene variants reported in Emiratis, most of which are substitutions and over half are classified as likely pathogenic or pathogenic. Of these, 235 had not been reported on the international databases dbSNP and Clinvar, as of December 2022. Further analysis of this Emirati variant dataset allows a comparison of clinical significance as reported by Clinvar and CTGA, where the latter is derived from the study cited. A total of 307 pathogenic/likely pathogenic variants from CTGA’s Emirati dataset, were classified as benign, variants of uncertain significance, or were missing a clinical significance or had not been reported by Clinvar. In conclusion, we present here the spectrum of genetic disorders and gene variants reported in Emiratis. This review emphasizes the importance of ethnic databases such as CTGA in addressing the underrepresentation of Arab variant data in international databases and documenting population-specific discrepancies in variant interpretation, reiterating the value of such repositories for clinicians and researchers, especially when dealing with rare disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1177204
JournalFrontiers in Genetics
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Emirati
  • database
  • rare disease
  • variant
  • variant annotation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Spectrum of genetic disorders and gene variants in the United Arab Emirates national population: insights from the CTGA database'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this