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 internationally trained expats.
Health insurance in Dubai
In recent years, the Dubai Health Authority has implemented new legislation under which all residents must have medical insurance. While Emiratis are covered under a government-funded scheme, expats will need to take out a private health insurance scheme.
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.
Expats should be aware that although basic health insurance is mandatory, it may not cover all medical treatments. Therefore, reviewing and possibly supplementing these basic plans with additional private health insurance for comprehensive coverage is advisable. This is particularly important for treatments like dental and optical care, which are often not included in basic health insurance plans.
For the latest regulations and details on health insurance requirements in Dubai, visiting the Dubai Health Authority is recommended.
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 medical aid.
It's important to note that some medications available over-the-counter or by prescription in other countries might be regulated or prohibited in Dubai. Expats should check the UAE's list of controlled substances and consult with a healthcare professional before bringing any medication into the country. This precaution ensures compliance with local laws and avoids potential legal issues.
The UAE Ministry of Health & Prevention provides a list of controlled substances.
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. Expats are advised to stay hydrated, use sun protection and limit exposure to the sun during peak hours.
Ongoing construction, accompanied by sand and dust from the surrounding desert, can also aggravate respiratory problems. For those with respiratory issues, using air purifiers indoors and wearing protective masks when outside in dusty conditions can be beneficial.
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. In comparison, residents can bring up to 12 months' supply, provided they produce a doctor's letter and the original prescription. Some medications may need the permission of the UAE Ministry of Health to be brought into the country.
To obtain a residency visa, expats need to undergo a medical examination and blood tests shortly after arriving in the UAE. All expats are tested for HIV/AIDS, but some expats may also be submitted to tests for syphilis, hepatitis B and C, and pregnancy. Positive results may result in deportation. It is worth noting that a chest X-ray is required in some other emirates, such as Abu Dhabi. This is not a requirement in Dubai.
No vaccinations are required for travel to the UAE. However, expats should ensure that all their routine vaccinations are current and contact a healthcare professional before travelling to the country to confirm the recommended vaccinations for Dubai.
For the most up-to-date information, expats should consult the health and fitness section of the Dubai government website.
Emergency services in Dubai
An ambulance service is available in medical emergencies in Dubai and can be reached by calling the number 998 or 999. Operators can usually speak English as well as Arabic.
For non-life-threatening but urgent conditions, expats typically arrange their own transport to the hospital, such as driving (if in a fit state) or taking a taxi.
Public and private healthcare facilities in Dubai
The quality of medical care in both public and private healthcare facilities in Dubai is generally excellent. However, expats are advised to check whether their chosen healthcare provider is covered under their insurance plan. This is particularly important when opting for private healthcare services, as they can be pricier. Expats should also consider the proximity of healthcare facilities to their residences for convenience, especially for those with chronic conditions requiring regular treatment.
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.
Dubai is home to numerous modern private hospitals and even has an enormous medical centre, appropriately named Dubai Healthcare City.
Dubai Healthcare City is a large complex of medical buildings and institutions. It includes hospitals, clinics, teaching and research facilities, pharmacies and partnerships with international institutions, including Boston University and Harvard Medical School.
For more information on healthcare facilities, see the Dubai Health Authority
Clinics in Dubai
Circle Care Clinic
The Circle Care Clinic employs a team of experienced expat doctors specialising in general medicine, paediatrics and family medicine, women's health, orthopaedics, dermatology and radiology. With top-of-the-line facilities and multilingual medical practitioners, Circle Care Clinic is primed to provide excellent care for Dubai's expat community.
Address:63 Al Thanya Street, Dubai
Hospitals in Dubai
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
What do expats say about healthcare in Dubai?
"Dubai has world-class healthcare. There’s also an area called Dubai Healthcare City, which caters to any and all healthcare needs an expat might have, with high-tech hospitals, medical teaching centres and pharmacies galore. Medi Clinic, Med Care and hundreds of reputable internationally-recognised healthcare facilities and hospitals are located in Dubai." For more, read South African expat Schalk's interview.
"You have to pay for healthcare in Dubai but as part of your work package your employer has to provide medical cover. The level of cover really depends on your employer. I am lucky and I have awesome cover, the experience I have had so far of visiting the doctor has been great but it hasn't been for anything major." British expat Laura's interview provides some insights about living in Dubai.
►See Frequently Asked Questions for all your Dubai-related queries
Are you an expat living in Dubai?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Dubai. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
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