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Medical care in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

The standard of healthcare in Dubai is high, comparable to the USA and Western Europe and you will find medical facilities modern and easily accessible for both locals and expats alike. There are some local doctors but the majority of medical staff is expatriates, trained in their home country, so you can always find a doctor you are comfortable communicating with. English language is widely spoken in Dubai and also within the healthcare sector.

Most expats residing in the country choose private medical care because it is usually provided by their employers and a benefit of their contract, however the public local hospitals also provide good and free medical healthcare should you wish to use it. Expats wanting to use public hospitals need to apply for a health card from the Department of Health and Medical Services (DOHMS).

Medical insurance in the UAE

As standard, 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 and a lot of large corporates do provide this as part of the expats package, as it can be expensive.

As a tourist visiting Dubai, you are advised to take out travel insurance, which includes cover for private medical treatment, but you will also have access to state medical facilities in the case of emergencies.

Healthcare facilities and locations in Abu Dhabi and Dubai

Many of the modern, large private hospitals are situated in the aptly named area of ‘Dubai Healthcare City’, which is close to Dubai Creek, although you will always find a small Medi-clinic close to the residential area where you live. Dubai Healthcare City is a large complex of medical buildings and institutions, which includes hospitals, clinics and pharmacies, as well as teaching and research facilities with international institutions.

When moving to a new home, it’s advisable to make yourself aware of the closest medical locality and timings in case of emergencies, particularly if you are in a new area of the city, as facilities are sometimes still being built and your nearest hospital may be further away.

Before Health Care City and the new Medi-clinics were created, doctors practiced from the local area of Jumeirah and Umm Suqeim and so you can still find a lot if the practitioners (GP’s, chiropractors, skilled dentists, cosmetic surgeons, endocrinologists, orthopedic, ENT specialists, pathologists, dermatologists etc.) operating from this area, in the older villas.

Availability of medicines and pharmacies in the UAE

Expats will not struggle to find a pharmacy in Dubai as there are plenty across the emirate; many of which are open 24 hours a day. Medicines are generally expensive but most medical insurance companies cover this and you can claim the cost back as part of your medical expenses.

Something to be aware of is that 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, and sometimes illegal. If you are bringing drugs into the UAE, always make sure you have checked their legality and bring the appropriate prescription when required.