The wife of US President George W. Bush arrived in this oil-rich Persian Gulf nation Sunday to begin a four-day trip around the Middle East to raise breast cancer awareness.
Laura Bush's visit comes at a difficult time for the US in the region, with continued challenges in Iraq and a heightened confrontation with Iran. But the first lady hopes to set aside geopolitics to focus on women's health, a topic rarely discussed in public in the Mideast.
Mrs. Bush was greeted at the airport Sunday in the United Arab Emirates' capital of Abu Dhabi by Sheika Lubna al-Qasimi, the nation's American-educated minister of the economy, who has been an outspoken activist on women's issues.
The first lady also plans to visit Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan during her Mideast tour, where she will meet with political figures, health professionals, breast cancer survivors and women's groups. She will also visit several cancer treatment and screening centers, part of an effort to promote the US-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research, which was organized by the US State Department.