Getting hospital treatment in Dubai (UAE)

On the Arabian Peninsula, Dubai is the glittering diamond that magically attracts people from far and wide. Architecturally at least, it is a mix of Shanghai, Hong Kong, New York and Las Vegas.

Dubai skyline with camels in front

Huge skyscrapers characterise the cityscape of Dubai, including the 828-metre Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building. The ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who has been convicted several times (in absentia) in London for kidnapping, torture and intimidation, has transformed Dubai into a hub for tourism and financial transactions. Every year, around 15 million people come to Dubai, often to shop in the world's largest shopping centre, the Dubai Mall, which has over 1,200 shops and 120 cafés and restaurants.

Of course, in this desert state with a daytime temperature of 40 °C, there is also an Olympic-sized ice-skating rink. There is no doubt that Dubai is an attraction that is primarily intended to compensate for the decline in revenues from the dwindling sources of crude oil.

Only about 15% of the 3.1 million people living in Dubai are locals. Both skilled and unskilled workers continue to be brought into the country to fill jobs in every sphere. The majority of foreign workers come from Asia, especially India.

How does the health system work in Dubai?

Foreigners in Dubai City who have an accident or become seriously ill will be given medical help in the state hospitals via their A&E (accident and emergency) departments, but only to the extent necessary to save or preserve life. Otherwise, the state health facilities are reserved for the locals, who are treated here free of charge. Foreigners are referred to privately run clinics and hospitals.

Hospital in Dubai

Who pays the hospital costs in Dubai?

Foreigners working for European or US companies in Dubai usually get health insurance through their employers, as those companies often have contracts with particular hospitals to treat their employees. However, if you are a tourist, for example, you have to pay all the costs yourself. If no cash is available, any medical treatment is halted or not started at all. Depending on the hospital, the treatment may be given free of charge, but this is at the discretion of the hospital operator. There is no legal obligation to provide medical assistance.

Therefore, we strongly recommend that tourists travel to Dubai only if they have taken out an adequate health insurance policy  that applies in that particular country, as well as sufficient cash or a credit card with a relatively high credit limit. Even with an international health insurance policy, most hospitals in Dubai are not prepared to settle directly with the insurers, even if the policy comes with a cost assumption declaration. The cost of treatment and the daily rates of private hospitals in Dubai are very high.

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