If you’re planning to move to Dubai long term you’ll be needing a health insurance. Take a look at our guide to healthcare in Dubai, from health insurance to costs and more.

Healthcare in Dubai compared to the rest of the UAE

Along with the rest of the emirates’ infrastructure, healthcare facilities across the United Arab Emirates have benefited from large government revenues in recent decades. There are also approximately 181 doctors per 100,000 residents on average and 40 public hospitals, whose standards are equivalent to those in Europe.

Healthcare programmes vary between the Emirates. Unlike Abu Dhabi, which has a compulsory health insurance programme, Dubai does not insist on all its residents being covered by insurance.

However, while public healthcare for UAE citizens is provided almost for free, expats will pay significantly higher (though still subsidised) costs for both hospital and clinical treatment.

Public healthcare in Dubai

Public healthcare in Dubai is administered by the Department of Health Authority, or DHA. Foreign workers can apply for a health card via the Ministry of Health in order to access the public system in an emergency.

2014 Dubai health insurance law

Dubai is in the process of enacting a compulsory insurance law similar to that of Abu Dhabi where employers will be obligated to provide health insurance which covers treatment at both private and public facilities. The plan will take about three years to fully roll out, though, and is scheduled to take full effect in next year.

Only basic healthcare will be covered by the new comprehensive Dubai law, and all cosmetic and luxury medical expenses will not be covered. Basic coverage will include the following:

  • GP visits
  • Surgical procedures
  • Maternity and related emergencies
  • Tests
  • Referral to specialists

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Private health insurance

There are a number of large health insurance providers operating in Dubai who offer schemes from basic cover to fully comprehensive. If you don’t want to incur large, unexpected bills then comprehensive schemes are recommended. If you have generally good health and plenty of cash, then a basic scheme might prove more economically sound.

Many employers offer packages which include health insurance plans for both you and your dependents who are moving with you. Sometimes the employer will offer a choice of a lower salary with a health plan or a higher salary and no plan.

Getting a range of quotes from different providers is therefore recommended to assess which is better for you. A private health insurance broker might be helpful for comparing the market.


Public hospitals are only available to non-citizens for emergency care. Those with private medical insurance are expected to go to a private hospital or clinic when possible.

Healthcare costs in Dubai

An initial consultation with a doctor costs around 220 AED with costs rising to 400 AED for night-time calls. Costs for operations, vaccines etc are comparable with those found in UK private hospitals (e.g. around 80,000 AEDfor a hip replacement).

Insurance premiums range from around 5,500 AED per annum for a thirty year old on a comprehensive plan to around 33,500 AED per annum for a young family of four on a comprehensive plan (or around 17,000 AED for basic cover).

Prescription drugs

Some prescription and over the counter drugs, such as sleeping pills and antidepressants, are not allowed in the United Arab Emirates. If you’re thinking of taking medication into the UAE with you you’ll need to check the Ministry of Health’s controlled list to see if you need prior permission and a prescription.

Pharmacies are generally open 24 hours a day, and though medicines are expensive in Dubai, you can keep the receipt if you plan on claiming expenses.

Common Dubai health problems

Health problems related to the heat of the desert – heat stroke, sunburn, dehydration and respiratory problems exacerbated by dust and dryness – are common.

While there is no requirement for producing medical reports on arrival, vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B, tetanus and rabies are recommended before travelling here, not just moving to the UAE.

All permanent residents are required to undergo checks for HIV on an annual basis.

Chickenpox, viral hepatitis B and pulmonary tuberculosis are common infectious diseases in the UAE and swine flu is still considered a problem by the Ministry of Health.