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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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
In order 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. For the most up-to-date information, expats should consult the health and fitness section of the Dubai government website.
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
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 will usually arrange their own transport to hospital, such as driving (if in a fit state to do so) or taking a taxi.
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
►See Frequently Asked Questions for all your Dubai-related queries
"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.
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
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
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