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What Expats Should Know About the Dubai Healthcare System

dubai healthcare system

The key facts every expat planning to move to Dubai should know about the Dubai healthcare system.

Whilst many would assume that being in the Middle East means that access to quality healthcare would be difficult, the reality is that in Dubai, the Dubai healthcare system offers excellent, world quality healthcare as long as you prepare properly.

There are a range of clinics and hospitals that are multi-lingual and professionally run, with the latest technologies and medical training; you can be rest assured that you and your family can be properly taken care of. However, if you fail to organize your insurance properly before you arrive, the healthcare bills can quickly get out of control.

Emergency Services

Traveling to any country, you should always be aware of the emergency services numbers before you actually land.  Just like the UK, all of the United Arab Emirates use the 999 emergency number. This will be answered by an operator who speaks both Arabic and English.

They will direct your call to either police, fire or ambulance. But remember, this is ONLY for emergencies, not for general hospital queries. In 2007, more than half a million non-emergency calls were made to the 999 number, so they take this very seriously.

For details of hospitals and other useful numbers, the UAE has compiled a list of all you might need during your stay. You can find it here.

Private Payer or Insurance?

As with any move, you have to make a decision on whether or not to purchase a international health insurance policy (like that offered by Cigna Global) before you leave. It is unwise to not be covered even back home in Australia, so being covered whilst abroad is almost an essential.

If you are being employed by a company, odds are they will be providing you with private medical insurance. Check out what the employer provided policy covers and if it covers your family and any special care you might require.

If you go without insurance, you can expect to pay for healthcare services up front; this can range from AED225 and upwards for a consultation, and then extra for any other tests or care.

Types of Care Available

Dubai has a hugely expanding health care system that not only pulls talented doctors from all over the world, but has massive investment in facilities. Almost all types of care are available from dermatologists to nutritionists. The doctors will be well-qualified and most expats report that the standard of care is exceptional.

Again, if you have any pre-existing conditions or propensities towards certain illnesses or afflictions, it is worth checking to see if your type of insurance will cover the costs. Also, if you are going to definitely need treatment or medication during your stay, it is worth contacting a Dubai hospital in advance to see if you can have your medical file sent early.

dubai healthcare system

Getting Registered & Prepared

Public hospitals are usually reserved for natives, and although for emergency treatment everyone will be taken care of, it can be a little more difficult for foreigners to get appointments or referrals.

The best way to ensure that you can access both public and private hospitals is to get yourself a Health Card through the Ministry of Health. This really broadens your options (but it may not be available for much longer, see the website for details).

Certain types of medicines are not available in Dubai. If you regularly take a certain medication, you’ll need to check in with the Drug Control Department (drugcl.csc@moh.gov.ae) to see if it is available. If you get prior permission, you can bring in a three month supply, or longer if given express permission and accompanied by the requisite letter.


Dubai has one of the most impressively funded, high-tech healthcare systems in the world. As long as you have the proper insurance and paperwork, you’ll be unlikely to come across any major problems.

Sources : Cigna Global, Ministry of Health

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