The UAE has a highly developed health infrastructure and the standard of healthcare in Dubai is high. Medical facilities are modern and easily accessible for locals and expats alike. Most public hospitals in Dubai offer good quality healthcare, although many expats choose private medical centres. English is commonly spoken and much of the medical staff consists of foreign-trained expats. 

Healthcare facilities in Dubai

Public hospitals and clinics provide free or low-cost medical services to UAE residents. Expats who'd like to make use of public hospitals need to apply for a health card from the Department of Health and Medical Services (DOHMS).

Modern private hospitals and an enormous medical centre the size of a small city, appropriately named Dubai Healthcare City, service expats and Emiratis alike.

Dubai Healthcare City is a large complex of medical buildings and institutions, and includes hospitals, clinics, teaching and research facilities, pharmacies and partnerships with international institutions, including Boston University and Harvard Medical School.

Medicines and pharmacies in Dubai

Expats will not struggle to find a pharmacy in Dubai as there are plenty across the emirate, and most are open 24 hours a day. Medicines are generally expensive in Dubai, and it’s best to keep the receipt if planning to claim from medical aid.

Laws pertaining to drugs in Dubai are very strict, and certain medications, such as sleeping pills and anti-depressants, are prohibited from being sold over the counter. Patients will have to obtain a prescription for these.

Health insurance in Dubai         

In recent years, the Dubai Health Authority has implemented new legislation under which all residents, expat and Emirati alike, as well as their dependants, must have medical insurance. While Emiratis are covered under a government-funded scheme, expats will need to be covered under private health insurance schemes.

Companies are required to provide health insurance for their expat employees. While they will not be required to cover the spouses and children of employees, they are encouraged to do so by the government.

Health hazards in Dubai

Due to the extreme temperatures, heat stroke and exhaustion, sunburn and dehydration are the most common medical ailments affecting expats in Dubai.

Continuous construction, accompanied by sand and dust from the surrounding desert, can also aggravate respiratory problems.

Pre-travel restrictions and vaccinations for Dubai

It’s not always easy to bring medication into Dubai as many medicines that expats might get at home are considered controlled substances in the UAE. Visitors entering Dubai can bring up to three months’ supply of a prescription item while residents can bring up to 12 months’ supply, provided they produce a doctor’s letter as well as the original prescription. Some medications may need the permission of the UAE Ministry of Health to be brought into the country.

The UAE currently requires expats to be tested for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and hepatitis B prior to arrival in the country; if testing positive for any of these diseases, expats face deportation. There is no appeal system against this process.

No vaccinations are required for the UAE. However, expats should ensure that all their routine vaccinations are up to date and contact a healthcare professional before travelling to the country to confirm the recommended vaccinations for Dubai.

Emergency services in Dubai

Although an ambulance service is available in Dubai, it is used primarily for road accidents and most expats use a private vehicle or a taxi in an emergency situation.

Hospitals in Dubai

Some of the more popular hospitals in Dubai for expats include:

Al Zahra Hospital

Address: Al Barsha 1, Al Barsha

American Hospital Dubai

Address: 19th Street, Oud Metha

Mediclinic City Hospital

Address: Building 37, Dubai Healthcare City

Expat Health Insurance

Cigna Health Insurance

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GeoBlue International Health Insurance


GeoBlue is one of the best international health insurance plans for US expats abroad or internationals residing in the USA. The GeoBlue Xplorer plan includes worldwide coverage and great customer service with access to a premium international network of hospitals and doctors including the Blue Cross Blue Shield network in the USA.

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