If you're moving to the UAE, chances are you have a lot of questions about expat life in the UAE. Here are 7 tips about healthcare and health insurance in the UAE. Topics covered include mandatory health insurance, bringing medications into the UAE, the availability of birth control and having a baby there.
Quality of Medical Care in the UAE
In terms of the quality of healthcare in the UAE, the US State Department wrote, "Basic modern medical care and medicines are available in the principal cities of the UAE, but not necessarily in outlying areas. There are significant variations in quality of care provided, so care should be taken in choosing a health care provider and reputable facility. While most common conditions can be appropriately treated in the UAE, complex medical conditions may be better treated in the United States. Providers may recommend a large number of procedures and tests, some of which may be unnecessary."
The Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi opened in 2015 as part of Abu Dhabi's plan to develop a world-class healthcare sector in the Emirate. Dubai Healthcare City is another new medical center that was built in hopes of attracting medical tourists to Dubai.
Health Insurance for Expats in the UAE
Insurance System for Advancing Healthcare in Dubai (ISAHD) explains that as of 2014 it is mandatory that expats in the Dubai have health insurance. Abu Dhabi enacted similar laws in 2006.
Having a Baby in the Dubai
One expat mom talked about having a baby in Dubai, "My third child was born in Dubai at the American Hospital. The midwives were primarily from Ireland or the UK and would deliver the baby unless there was a complication and the doctor needed to be called in. They were friendly and nice. Many people stay in hospital for 3-5 days before going home. The care was excellent. I wanted my doctor to be present for the birth since that had been my experience with my first two children. I happened to find an OB/GYN who DID make a habit of coming to the hospital for delivery so you need to inquire when interviewing a doctor if he/she does make hospital visits during birthing." When asked what she would do advise nother expat mom preparing to have a baby in the UAE, she said, "Ask if the hospital has an NICU or, if there were complications, what hospital nearby would have an NICU [knowing that your infant would need to be transported to that other hospital]."
Another expat mom explained, "You can choose from the government-run hospitals, such as Al Wasl, which are cheaper than the private hospitals, but many do not allow men into the labour rooms (they are allowed in for final delivery only). Al Wasl has an excellent reputation in terms of quality of healthcare, but is far from providing any frills and luxury. The best and most established private hospitals are Americal Hospital and Welcare Hospital. Be aware that American has a tendency to push women into Caesarians although it provides a very luxurious service complete with champagne dinner for the new parents. Welcare is not quite as luxurious but the care is very good; mainly British/Indian doctors and nurses. You can choose an independent gynae/obstetrician from any clinic, or you can choose one who works from one of the hospitals. The advantage of the latter is that the private hospitals tend to offer 'packages' that include all pre-natal appointments and scans and tests, and 'birth packages' that include the stay in hospital and routine fees, and this works out cheaper than using an independent obstetrician - for him, you have to pay his fees PLUS the hospital fees for giving birth."
Expat Health Insurance in UAE
Expats interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.
Is Birth Control available in the UAE?
In a discussion about Birth control in the UAE one newcomer asked, "Has anyone tried to get contraception in Abu Dhabi? What are your experiences? I have read that it is rarely available and often has to be ordered. If you obtained some, what pharmacy did you chose?" Another expat replied, "I was able to get a prescription from my doctor and I purchased mine from the hospital/clinic he is at in Al Ain. I do know of some pharmacists who do reject giving such pills, but I think it depends on where you go. I went to a mission hospital, Oasis Hospital, where many of the doctors and nurses are of the Christian faith. I don't know if that has anything to do with why I was able to get them." Another expat replied, "Birth control pills are readily available without a prescription at any pharmacy (Microgynon, Jasmine are about 35 dh/mo or $10). So are condoms and pregnancy tests. However, IUDs, the morning-after pill, and abortions are not available here. Gynecologists are mostly female and the services are excellent. It's probably a good idea to choose a doctor first and ask her/his advice., rather than try to fill a prescription from another country."
Medical Exam Required for Work and Residence Permits in the UAE
"A full medical exam is required for work or residence permits and includes an HIV/AIDS test. Testing must be performed after arrival; a U.S. HIV/AIDS test is not accepted. U.S. citizens have been detained and deported for testing positive for HIV, active tuberculosis, or hepatitis," states the US Department of State. There are no special vaccination requirements for travel to the UAE; however, travelers are advised to be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Taking Controlled Substances into the UAE
In a thread titled, Can I bring my medication to the UAE?, one woman considering moving to the UAE to teach asked, "Hi! I really need help with this question as no one seems to have an answer. I take medication for anxiety. IT IS A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE. I can't just stop taking it - it's dangerous to do so. I don't want to go through w this (teaching in the Middle East) and have them taken away OR be jailed for 4 years. Thank you for your help!
An expat replied, "The primary question would be: is it a narcotic? If not, then with an official prescription, you're good to go. All narcotic painkillers (anything with codeine or oxycodone or any other opiate derivative or synthetic opioid) are banned in the UAE. To carry a prescription opioid into the UAE, you need to carry a doctor's letter and prescription information, both of which must be notarized and registered both with your home country's State Department and the UAE consulate."
The original posted replied, "The medication is a benzodiezpine. I looked it up on the banned drugs list for the UAE and it's on the Controlled Drug Class A – Psychotropics (Active ingredients). I'm afraid to take the chance...It's not a narcotic though. It says a prescription must be held but idk what that means. I don't carry a prescription if it's filled!"
Another expat responded, "I brought the same type(s) of meds with me to the UAE. Ask your doctor's office for a letter listing all meds and their diagnosis's. Only bring with you what you will need for the trip plus maybe 25% for emergencies. Of course carry your meds in your carry on bag for safety reasons. When I landed at Dubai I didn't even see a customs counter; but doesn't mean that there wasn't any. I just didn't have to go through a custom's inspection. Most importantly, don't worry. If you are carrying the amount you will need for your trip they will not suspect you of drug trafficing."
According to the US Embassy in the UAE's website, expats and travelers should be extremely careful about which medications to take into the UAE. "Travelers with questions regarding the items on the list of controlled substances should contact the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai. If suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, individuals may be required to submit to blood and/or urine tests and may be subject to prosecution," stated by the US Department of State.
The US Embassy suggests that people check this site UAEinteract. On that site you will find, "a list of Controlled Medicines and Medications, registered with the Ministry of Health in the UAE and enforced by the UAE Ministry of Interior and International Narcotic Controlled Board (INCB). These items are essentially available only in hospitals and in large community pharmacies, under the prescription of doctors. However, the Drug Control Department of the Ministry of health does have special regulations for personal import of such items: patients or travelers carrying prescribed prescription medications must have their prescriptions issued by licensed U.S. doctors, attested by a notary public, and duly authenticated by both the secretary of state of one's U.S. state, and finally also authenticated by the Secretary of State of the U.S. Government in Washington, D.C."
Obtaining Controlled Substances from a Hospital in the UAE
The safest way to continue to take a prescription controlled substance in the UAE would be to obtain it from a hospital in the UAE. On the US Embassy in the UAE website is says, "These items are essentially available only in hospitals and in large community pharmacies, under the prescription of doctors. The Ministry of Health advises that unlicensed, controlled medicines can only be imported into the UAE through hospitals and not by individuals."
The US Department of State provides a helpful list of hospitals in the UAE. They do not endorse these hospitals in any way.
- American Hospital +971-4-336-7777
- Al Amal Psychiatric Hospital +971-4-344-4010
- Al Wasl Hospital (Government) +971-4-324-1111
- City Hospital +971-4-435-9999
- Dubai Hospital (Government) +971-4-271-4444
- Maktoum Hospital Travel Clinic +971-4-219-6666
- Medcare Hospital +971-4-407-9100
- NeuroSpinal Hospital +971-4-342-0000
- Welcare Hospital +971-4-282-7788
- Allied Diagnostic Centre +971-4-328-1111
- Consultant Physicians (DHCC) +971-4-362-2999
- Dubai Community Health Center +971-4-395-3939
- Dubai Bone Joint Center +971-4-423-1400
- Dubai London Clinic +971-4-344-6663
- Dubai Physiotherapy +971-4-349-5959
- Illinois Medical Center +971-4-3949977
- Infinity Clinic +971-4-394-8994
- Medlink Clinic +971-4-344-7711
- Singhania Clinic +971-4-334-9779
- American Hospital Ambulance +971-4-309-6644
- Ambulance 999
- Fire 997
- Police 999
- Rashid Hospital +971-4-337-4000/303-2242
- American Hospital +971-4-336-7777/309-6644
Private Hospitals in Abu Dhabi
Al Ahalia Hospital
Address: Hamdan Street
Al Mazroui Hospital One Day Surgery
Address: on Al-Najda (6th Street) between Electra Street (7th Street) Al-Falah Street (9th Street)
Al Noor Hospital
Address: Khalifa Street (3rd Street)
Tel: 02-626-5265 Tel: 02-613-9220
International Knee and Joint Center
Address: 3rd Floor, Emirates General Market Building, Zayed 1st Street
Al Salama Hospital
Address: Tourist Club Area, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Street
Tel: 02-671-1220 Tel: 02-676-5525
Cosmesurge Emarites Hospital One Day Surgery
Address: Street 13, Delma and Karama intersection
Dar Al Shifaa Hospital
Address: Al-Najda (6th Street) Al-Difaa Street (11th Street)
Emirates French Hospital
Address: Nahda Tower, Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi
Al Raha Hospital
Address: 2nd Floor Hyper Market Buildings, Najda Street, Abu Dhabi
Gulf Diagnostic Center Hospital
Address: Khaleej Al-Arabi Street (30th Street)
Tel: 02-665-8090 Tel: 02-417-7222
Life Line Hospital
Magrabi Specialized Eye and Ear Center
Address: Al-Nakhil tower, Bani Yasser st.
NMC Specialty Hospital
Address: Electra Street (7th Street)
Tel: 02-633-2255 Tel: 02-617-9200
Address: New Al Najda Street
Hospitals in Mussafah, UAE
New National Medical Centre
Address: Shabiah Khalifa area
Public Hospitals in Mussafah, UAE
Al Mafraq Hospital
Adress: Al Mafraq 35 kilometers from the city of Abu Dhabi.
Al Corniche Hospital
Address: Corniche Road (1st Street), Behind Sheraton Hotel
Sheikh Khalifa Medical City
Address: Air port Road (2nd Street)
Behavioral Sciences Pavilion in Mussafah, UAE
Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (Psychiatric Hospital)
Address: Air port Road (2nd Street)
Samaya Medical Center – SMC Day Care Surgery
Address: on 32nd street, between 17th and 19th
Hospitals in Al Ain, UAE
NMC Specialty Hospital
Al Mutaredh area, opposite the Al Ain Police Headquarters and beside the UAE University.
Address: 147 Street near St.Mary’s Church