The Egyptian government says it has placed a ban on Egyptian doctors going to work in Saudi Arabia in the wake of two medics being sentenced to jail.
Rauf Amin Mohammad al-Arabi, who had worked for the royal family for 20 years, was sentenced to 15 years in jail and 1,500 lashes.
He and Shawky Abd-Rabbu were convicted of prescribing morphine to a princess – who then became a drug addict.
His wife has pleaded for leniency, saying the lashes will kill him.
The Egyptian authorities say the ban on new work permits will not affect doctors already in Saudi Arabia.
Arabi is said to have prescribed morphine to the woman after she sustained injuries in a riding accident.
It’s impossible that he will be able to handle 1,500 lashes
Fathiya Shehata Hendawi
Some reports claim the princess had already been prescribed the drugs in the US and had specified the medication she wanted, BBC Cairo correspondent Christian Fraser says.
The sister of Abd-Rabbu said her brother was coerced into making false confessions and the Saudi authorities had threatened to imprison his wife who is also working in the kingdom.
Seventy of the lashes were reportedly administered last week, with 70 next week.
The doctors had denied the allegations, but were initially sentence to 750 lashes on charges of malpractice. They appealed but lost and the sentence was then doubled.
Arabi’s wife, Fathiya Shehata Hendawi, says the sentence will kill her husband. She has begged for leniency and is appealing to the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to save his life.
“It’s impossible that he will be able to handle 1,500 lashes. Maybe after the ninth or 10th one he will be killed. God forbid.
“Who benefits from this? Not his kids, their father is a victim of something he did not do. He is a victim of complete injustice,” she said.
The Saudi royal family has refused to comment but a number of Egyptian newspapers blame their own government, which they say suffers an inferiority complex when it comes to dealing with the oil rich Saudis, says our correspondent.