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Healthcare in Riyadh

Are you busy preparing for expat life in Riyadh? The InterNations Guide to Riyadh provides a first impression of daily life for foreigners in Saudi Arabia’s capital. Read on for information on leisure and socializing, health and hospitals, as well as education and transportation.
Ideally, expats moving to Riyadh should have international health insurance.

Expatriates who are going to live in Riyadh needn’t worry about medical services. The healthcare facilities in Saudi Arabia’s major cities have decent to excellent quality standards. Since the Ministry of Health was established in the 1950s, the country’s living standards and medical care have improved tremendously. The WHO even ranked the Saudi healthcare system ahead of countries like Canada or the United Arab Emirates.

Health Insurance for Expats

Unfortunately, free access to Riyadh’s primary health centers and public hospitals is only guaranteed for Saudi nationals, though the rare foreign national employed in the public sector may also be covered. The vast majority of expatriates need to take out private health insurance during their time in Riyadh.

Very often, companies based in Saudi Arabia provide their foreign employees, as well as their dependent family members, with a medical insurance plan. However, make sure to carefully check your company’s healthcare plan and evaluate the services it offers. This is especially important if you have any preexisting conditions which may not be covered. Sometimes, it may be necessary to take out supplementary insurance, e.g. to cover dental care or the cost of medical repatriation.

If your new employer in Riyadh does not offer you any sort of health coverage, you should start shopping around with the big international insurance companies as early as possible. Contact providers like Axa, Allianz, Aviva or Cigna well in advance and compare their costs for someone of your age, gender, and general state of health.

Health Tips for Riyadh: Pre-Departure  

Before you leave for Riyadh, you should see a doctor and get booster shots for standard vaccinations (tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough; mumps, measles, rubella; influenza and polio; flu jab). Additional recommended vaccinations for long-term stays in Saudi Arabia include typhoid fever, rabies, hepatitis A and B, as well as meningitis. While some parts of Saudi Arabia are classified as risk areas for malaria, Riyadh is not among them.

Take the climate into account when you prepare your baggage. Pack lots of light clothes made of natural fibers as they are far more pleasant to wear in the oppressive heat of the summer months. Even Riyadh can get a bit cool in the midst of winter, so don’t forget some sweaters and jackets, either!

Health Tips for Riyadh: Upon Arrival   

Once you have arrived in Saudi Arabia, avoid the midday sun and the hot afternoon hours whenever possible. Lots of Saudi businesses are closed in the early afternoon for an extended siesta to give employees the opportunity to relax instead of toil during the hottest time of the day.

Also, make sure to drink lots and lots of water – far more than you might usually drink – in order to stay hydrated. Stacking up on hydration salt can come in useful in case you suffer from light dehydration and need to quickly restore your electrolyte metabolism. If you’re severely dehydrated, go and see a doctor immediately.

If you regularly take prescription medication, you can import it in quantities obviously intended for personal use. However, remember to bring a letter from your doctor (and a certified Arabic translation) to avoid any trouble with customs. Saudi Arabia has very strict policies concerning illegal drugs (including alcohol), and some common medications can only be imported with such a special note – or not at all.

In recent years, the Coronavirus has started worrying residents and health services in Saudi Arabia. It includes a wide range of respiratory diseases, from a kind of common cold to the rare case of SARS. To learn more about this health risk and ways of preventing infection, please read the information provided by the Saudi Ministry of Health.

Medical Services in Riyadh

For minor ailments, some expat compounds offer a nurse’s office or a resident physician. In a medical emergency, phone 997 directly or call a nearby hospital to send an ambulance. Below, you’ll find a list of some of Riyadh’s largest and most popular hospitals.

Although the Saudi government is making ongoing attempts to have more national medical staff trained in the country, many doctors and nurses are still foreign-born or have received their medical training abroad. Hence, English is widely understood in the medical sector.

Hospitals in Riyadh:                       


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

Juan Garcia

"Making business in Riyadh was easy. But meeting true friends is hard. I found them on InterNations, where the global minds meet."

Marie Troisonne

"Without the help of all the expats on InterNations it would not have been able to settle in Riyadh that fast. Thanks to the community."

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