Guide to Healthcare in UAE

8 Expats Talk about Healthcare and Health Insurance in the UAE

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Jan 17, 2021

Summary: Expats living in the UAE talk about healthcare, proximity to hospitals and specialists, quality of medical care in the UAE, availability of prescription medicines and more.

William Russell Expat Health Insurance

Expats in the UAE offer insight into the quality of healthcare in the UAE, proximity to hospitals, cost of health insurance and more.

What advice do you have for expats having a baby in the UAE?

We asked expat moms who gave birth in the UAE about their experiences and advice they have for other moms to be. They said:

"Understand your rights as a patient in the hospital. Know what is expected from you and know when you can leave. Push for what you want to happen. Many of the staff are underqualified and simply there to have jobs. Sorry to say but we experienced far too much uncertainty from the AD birth to have complete faith in their system. Our doctor was great but all of the support was less than stellar. Fortunately, we had no real complications and we were able to leave on our own. Remember, if you are working there, some maternity is up to 45-90 days. Use every bit of it. Also, the doctors and midwifes in the middle east will push for breast feeding for as long as possible. My wife's breasts became infected and the experience was not good until we went against the midwife's and doctors and started to feed with pumping and formula. Our girls turned out perfect. And our first time being parents was made easier when the stress of infected breasts went away," commented an expat living in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, UAE.

"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]," said another expat in Dubai.

"Visit all the hospitals to see what you think; ask around - see what people have experienced, especially with the new hospitals. If you don't mind 'roughing it' a bit, go to Al Wasl as it has the best equipment for SCBU and premature babies, and it is cheaper than the big international hospitals," remarked another in Dubai.

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What are local medical services like?

When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in the UAE and they replied:

"Advanced recon on the ground is very important. Do not expect to find the perfect doctor straight away. The American hospitals are the most expensive but usually have the best standards of care. Find a doctor whom you like and stick with that person. If your company does not provide medical insurance, there are plenty of options to receive based on budget," commented an expat living in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

"The medical care in the UAE and in Dubai was mostly really good. We had a range of private and government hospitals and clinics available to us. The staff were international, as were the hospitals. There were a range of well known American, Canadian and English hospitals," said another expat in Dubai.

What do you think about the cost of medical care in the UAE?

"Like most places, you pay for what you get. My company had our family on a health plan but it continually changed with the company trying to save money every year," commented an expat living in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

"Our health insurance was provided by the company I worked for. We had to pay about $10 (30AED) for a doctors visit. The process was very smooth and seamless," said another expat in Dubai.

What are emergency services like?

When we asked about emergency services, members in the UAE wrote:

"Hospitals are everywhere, clinics as well. Less than 30 minutes to any hospital unless you are out in the desert. MedClinic is a big hospital provider in the region. Quality varies on your insurance coverage. Both public and private options. The region is very class oriented and as a result, the costs associated with care filters out the people who cannot afford it," commented an expat living in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

"The closest hospital to us was Al Zarah hospital, an outstanding private hospital. In the area there was also the Saudi German Hospital, a range of Mediclinic hospitals and some government medical centers. We were no more that 5 minutes away from the nearest hospital, which remains true for most places in the city. Hospitals and clinics are everywhere. We never did require emergency services, However I have heard that they are reliable," said another expat in Dubai.

Are their specialists in the area or do you need to travel to see a specialist?

"Many people traveled to Thailand or other south east asia for medical tourism. Everything from knee replacement to braces. Typically, standards are good if not better than care in UAE," commented an expat living in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

"I never needed to do this, but I would have gone to City Hospital, A mediclinic hospital. They had a range of facilities available, held very high standards and that's where our daughter was born. The facility and the staff were outstanding," said another expat in Dubai.

Are most prescription medications available in the UAE?

"There are no prescribed narcotics: codine and similar drugs are not legally available and traveling in with them can get you in big trouble. The UAE website has a detailed list of what is legal. There are pharmacies all over with an assortment of medicines. Some things like birth control and Voltorin are available over the counter but other things like cough syrup may require prescription. You may often skip the doctor and go to a trusted pharmacy and they will advise on what to take to get better," commented an expat living in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

"There are pharmacies in every mall and on most streets in the city. Antibiotics can be purchased over the counter. Some medications need a prescription and we found we received a lot of generic brand medications, but never went without anything really. Health insurance covered a lot of the expense, but they weren't terribly expensive to buy either," said another expat in Dubai.

"Hospitals are clustered in the city. On the outskirts they are less frequent, but you are never more than a 20 minute drive away from a hospital. There are private and government hospitals available, expats typically go to the private hospitals. Quality of care is high, hospitals are held to international standards and have expat nursing staff and doctors," commented an expat living in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

"Hospitals are very close and provide adequate care. Like any area, you get what you pay for as well when it comes to the hospitals. The American hospitals are typically the most reliable for high level of care," said another expat in Abu Dhabi.

"Hospitals are varied, there are really good private hospitals with a high standard of care. Doctors, nurses and staff are international, as are the hospitals available. There are some award winning hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic. Government hospitals are available and provide free vaccinations to residence," remarked another expat in Dubai.

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Get a quote for expat health insurance in UAE from our partner, GeoBlue.
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Get a quote for expat health insurance in UAE from our partner, GeoBlue.
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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 6 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and 7 Tips for Obtaining Residence in Italy. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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William Russell Expat Health Insurance

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GeoBlue International Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in UAE from our partner, GeoBlue.
Get a Quote

Get a quote for expat health insurance in UAE from our partner, GeoBlue.
Get a Quote Call  

Healthcare in UAEHealthcare in UAE

Expats and people moving to the UAE have lots of questions. Healthcare and health insurance are often on the list. Here are 7 tips about healthcare, health insurance in the UAE, having a baby in the UAE and more.

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An expat in Abu Dhabi talks about the quality of healthcare, recommends American hospitals for their standard of care, explains that many people skip the doctor and get prescription medicine from the -

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Help others moving to UAE by answering a set of questions about health insurance, public healthcare in UAE, prescription medicine, quality of medical care and emergency services.

Having-a-Baby-In-UAEExpats Talk about What it's Like Having a Baby in UAE

Read recent baby reports submitted for Dubai and Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

If you're an expat parent who had a baby abroad, write a report about your childbirth experiences to help other expecting expat parents.

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