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Doctors, Dentists and Other Health Services

United Arab Emirates (UAE) - Doctors, Dentists and Other Health Services


For many years the UAE have been very generous with their medical systems to foreign nationals and would never turn anyone away but by the 1990’s with 80% of the Dubai and Abu Dhabi populations being expats something had to change. UAE nationals were finding it harder and harder to get a hospital bed so medical insurance became a way of life.

The UAE with its public healthcare service does provide very low cost, or sometimes free, medical services to residents through the public hospitals. For expats who have a UAE residence visa a health card can be applied for at a small cost so the state owned health centres and hospitals can be used. However, it is advisable to have private cover as well and some state hospitals are not overly keen on taking expats with insurance and therefore it is usually better to go to a private hospital. For emergency care or life-threatening injuries any hospital, public or private, will provide medical assistance free of charge.

Abu Dhabi is the only emirate at the moment that makes medical insurance a condition of entry. Basically no policy means being put on the next plane back home.

Dubai has been slightly more lenient and not wanting to upset the huge expat population plans were put on hold to make medical insurance compulsory. If you are an expat resident in Dubai health insurance will be monitored by residency officials rather than at the point of entry. The other smaller emirates are staying in line with Dubai for now.

UAE medical standards are up to European levels with the number of still births only slightly higher than the UK and life expectancy the same. The major diseases of measles, malaria and poliomyelitis have been eradicated with strict vaccination programmes but with the high fat, high sugar and no exercise way of life becoming more common the biggest killers now are heart disease and diabetes. Common problems are sunburn, heatstroke and dehydration especially for the sun-starved expats from colder countries.

If are on holiday in the UAE make sure you have adequate insurance and if you are genuinely on a short working visit a good travel insurance policy will probably be enough. Medical consultations are not cheap and operation costs are comparable to UK private hospital rates. Wherever you plan to live in the UAE medical insurance is advisable unless you have very deep pockets and can pay out thousands of dirhams for hospital bills.

Whether you are just planning a holiday or to live in the UAE it is wise to check for any vaccinations that might be an entry requirement well ahead of your proposed date of travel. Another very important part of applying for a residency visa is the medical and health check. An HIV / AIDS test is compulsory and if the result is positive the visa will be refused and the applicant deported.


Dental care like everything has to paid for and most medical insurance plans have an add-on option for visits to the dentists. If you choose not to have dental cover, it is up to you to pay for all the consultations and treatment that you need. There are many private dentists and word of mouth from work colleagues or other expats is usually the best way to find one that suits you.

Pregnancy and birth

If you think having a baby in UK is expensive with all the equipment, furniture, clothes, food and nappies just wait until you find out the costs in UAE. Everything has a price right from the initial consultations and pre-natal care through to the hopefully straightforward delivery. There are many options but the whole procedure can cost up to AED 25,000 and a lot more if there are complications or a caesarean section is necessary. Of course the hospital you choose will reflect the price you pay but be warned, if your policy covers you for AED 8,000 and the total bill is AED 14,000 the balance has to come out of your own pocket.

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners

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.