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Prescriptions and Medications

United Arab Emirates (UAE) - Prescriptions and Medications

Prescriptions and medications vary in the UAE as they do all over the world, but what will be familiar to most people will be the big green cross outside indicating a pharmacy.

You might find that something you can buy over a chemists counter in your own country might need a prescription in the UAE. Antibiotics do need a prescription and you will find that anti-depressants, tranquilisers and sleeping pills are all banned completely in Dubai. If you need supplies of any of the banned drugs you will need to bring them with you. Do not, however, bring large quantities or you will be accused of drug smuggling. Even if you bring in over the counter drugs you still need a prescription for them. Don’t forget that a drug that is classed as psychotropic might in the UAE be classed as narcotic.

If you are taking a prescription medicine and move to the UAE it is very important to find out beforehand if you can get the same medication on prescription or if it is even available. If you need a repeat prescription you will need to go to a local doctor for a new one as a foreign one will not be accepted. Take special care to keep any original packaging or instructions of any medicines you bring with you so that a similar one can be prescribed if necessary. Product names can vary from emirate to emirate and so can the strength, so make doubly sure about the dose you take.

Prescriptions and medicines are usually expensive and you must get a receipt. This is very important as some health insurance providers will reimburse the cost. Pharmacies also sell perfumes and beauty products and you can buy cough mixture, eye drops and pain relief in the supermarkets.

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Our award-winning expatriate business provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. In addition, we have helped develop world-class health systems for governments, corporations and providers around the world. We want to be the global leader in delivering world-class health solutions, making quality health care more accessible and empowering people to live healthier lives.

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.