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Navigating your healthcare as an expat in Dubai

Updated 17 Jul 2023

Moving to a new country can be a stressful experience, and taking care of your physical and emotional health is essential to making a smooth transition. Sleep, emotional resilience, and access to quality healthcare are all important aspects to consider when relocating.

Preparing for your move

Find out about healthcare in your new destination

Those moving to Dubai will be delighted to find that they can access high-quality healthcare services in the emirate. Since expats constitute almost 90 percent of the population in Dubai, English-speaking services are widely available. Dubai is also a world-renowned medical tourism destination, as the city boasts excellent specialists while also offering well-priced procedures.

Look after your body and mind

Getting enough rest is crucial to staying healthy during the process of relocating. It can be challenging to prioritise sleep when there are so many tasks to complete, but aim for a minimum of seven hours a night to maintain your well-being.

Focus on the positive aspects of your move, like new opportunities, friends, and experiences. Try not to let the stress of the move get in the way of your emotional health.

Stock up on prescription medicine

If you have any chronic conditions, ensure that you have your medical records and your doctor's contact information before leaving your current home. You can also add an electronic medical record to your file when you register at a new healthcare facility. 

Bring enough prescription medicine to last for at least a month so that you have time to settle in before finding a doctor. New arrivals to Dubai should ensure that they have all required permissions from the UAE Ministry of Health to bring any prescription medications legally into the country. 

Update your medical records

It's also essential to update your vaccination records and bring your vaccination cards with you. Depending on your country of origin’s vaccination schedule, you may need additional vaccines upon arrival in Dubai.

Choosing a healthcare practitioner 

When choosing a clinic, look for one that can cater to all of your family's needs, ideally, a multi-speciality clinic with all necessary departments under one roof. These clinics can also refer you to other specialists if needed. Schedule a wellness review as soon as possible to get to know your medical team and to ensure everyone is up to date on vaccinations and medications.

Health insurance in Dubai

The Dubai Health Authority mandates that all residents must have medical insurance. Expats will generally have to take out private healthcare coverage for their dependants, while those who are legally employed in Dubai will be fortunate to have their health insurance costs covered by their employers. 

Most international medical insurance policies offer coverage in the UAE, but make sure that you understand the inclusions and exclusions, such as dental, physiotherapy and mental health coverage. 

Although most expats opt for private healthcare, medical insurance policies will also typically cover treatments and procedures done at public hospitals. Expats will first need to apply for a health card from the Department of Health and Medical Services to access public services.

Potential health risks in Dubai

The UAE's heat can be challenging, so carry a water bottle and stay well hydrated at all times. Tap water is not recommended for drinking. If you are moving to an area where there is ongoing construction, the accompanying sand and dust may aggravate respiratory issues.

By taking care of your physical and emotional health, you can make your relocation to Dubai a smoother, more enjoyable experience.

Provided by Dr Alexia Diaz Mathe, a multilingual General Practitioner at Circle Care Clinic in Dubai. 

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