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United Arab Emirates – End of Life Issues

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a country located in the Middle East, with a population of over 9 million people. The UAE has made significant strides in healthcare over the years, including end-of-life care. In this article, we will explore hospice care in the UAE, local customs and practices when someone dies, and what to do when someone passes away in the UAE.

Hospice Care in the United Arab Emirates

Hospice care in the UAE is still relatively new and evolving. The UAE recognizes the importance of providing palliative care to those nearing the end of their lives. Hospice care is usually provided in hospitals or special hospice centers.

The UAE’s government established the Dubai Hospice in 1983 to provide hospice care to terminally ill patients. The hospice provides care and support to patients and their families and focuses on enhancing their quality of life. The facility has both in-patient and outpatient units, providing round-the-clock care to patients.

In addition to the Dubai Hospice, several other healthcare organizations offer hospice care services in the UAE, including the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, and the Tawam Hospital.

Local Customs and Practices When Someone Dies in the United Arab Emirates

The UAE is a Muslim-majority country, and Islamic customs and practices play a significant role in end-of-life care. Muslims believe that death is a transition to the afterlife and that the soul leaves the body to be judged by God. Therefore, the body must be treated with respect and dignity.

The following are some of the local customs and practices when someone dies in the UAE:


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  • Washing of the body: After a person passes away, the body is washed and wrapped in a clean white cloth before burial. This practice is carried out by the deceased’s family members, and it is usually completed as soon as possible.

  • Burial: Muslims in the UAE usually bury their dead within 24 hours of death. The burial is typically performed by male family members, and the body is buried facing Mecca. Islamic law prohibits cremation.

  • Funeral prayers: Before the burial, funeral prayers are held, usually at a mosque or the deceased’s home. These prayers are open to everyone and are led by an Imam.

  • Condolences: After the burial, the family receives condolences from relatives, friends, and acquaintances. This is usually done by visiting the family at their home or sending a condolence message.

What to do When Someone Dies in the United Arab Emirates

If someone passes away in the UAE, the following are the steps to take:

  1. Call the police: In the UAE, it is mandatory to report a death to the police. The police will investigate the cause of death and issue a death certificate. The number to call is 999.

  2. Contact the deceased’s family members: The family should be informed of the death as soon as possible. It is usually the responsibility of the closest family member to make funeral arrangements.

  3. Contact a funeral director: A funeral director can assist with arranging the burial or transportation of the body. It is recommended to choose a funeral director who speaks the same language as the deceased’s family to facilitate communication.

  4. Notify the embassy: If the deceased was a foreign national, their embassy should be notified of the death.

  5. Obtain a death certificate: Once the police investigation is complete, a death certificate will be issued. This document is required for the burial and other legal procedures.

  6. Make funeral arrangements: The family can choose to have the body transported back to their home country or buried in the UAE. If the latter,

  • Register the Death
    In the UAE, the process of registering a death is slightly different from other countries. After receiving the death certificate, you must register the death at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) within 24 hours. This is mandatory for both expats and locals.

  • Notify the Embassy
    If the deceased was a foreign national, you must notify their embassy in the UAE. The embassy will then provide guidance on the repatriation of the deceased’s body back to their home country.

  • Arrange for Burial or Repatriation
    After the registration process is complete, the body can either be buried or repatriated. If the deceased is being buried in the UAE, the funeral will take place at a mosque, and the body will be taken to the cemetery for burial. If the deceased is being repatriated, the body will be embalmed and transported to the airport.

  • In conclusion, end-of-life care in the United Arab Emirates is heavily influenced by Islamic traditions and customs. The government has implemented several initiatives to improve end-of-life care services, including hospice care and palliative care. It is important to be familiar with the local customs and practices when someone dies in the UAE, as the process of registering and repatriating a death can be different from other countries. It is recommended to seek the guidance of a local funeral director or the embassy in the case of a foreign national.


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