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Living in the UAE, from Switzerland

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Health and Insurance in the UAE

A healthy life and the knowledge that, if worst comes to worst, you’ll be taken care of is invaluable. As such, it is very important that you get informed about topics such as health risks, vaccinations, the local healthcare system, and more, even prior to your move to UAE.

Of course, while planning your relocation, you may have already thought about packing suitable clothing for the desert heat. However, have you also taken into account that desert winds and the dust that they kick up can be problematic, especially for those with pre-existing respiratory illnesses? Similarly, venomous snakes and aggressive ants may not be something that comes to mind straight away; so make sure you read up on potential health risks! Some of these, such as typhoid fever and hepatitis A can also easily be countered by keeping your vaccination shots up to date. While at the doctor’s, make sure to also discuss your upcoming move and potential additional precautions as well as get prescriptions and/or signed notes for any medication you are planning on bringing along. Note that you might be allowed to bring all types of medicines, though!

Pharmacies, Hospitals, and the Healthcare System

When it comes to importing medication, all narcotic drugs are prohibited, including for example codeine, which is readily available as a painkiller in many countries. Luckily, medication is otherwise not hard to come by in the UAE, with basic meds sold at supermarkets and pharmacies — especially the 24-hour ones in many hospitals — covering the rest. Speaking of hospitals, there are many public as well as private ones to be found in the UAE, ranging from smaller, specialized clinics to general hospitals and even so-called healthcare cities. The latter, currently found in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, are large complexes made up of hospitals, labs, research institutes, and further medical facilities. In general, both private as well as public health facilities are of a good standard, with services and e.g. waiting times somewhat better at the former. Your insurance cover will most likely be a deciding factor when it comes to the choice of healthcare provider.

From Family Doctors to Starting a Family

Hopefully, you will not need the services of a hospital during your stay in the UAE, though. Contrary to many other countries, general practitioners in the UAE are meanwhile not found at small doctor’s offices, but instead at medical centers and clinics or affiliated with hospitals. This is also the case for specialists, including gynecologist. The latter, despite what some might assume due to Islam’s influence in the country, can be both, male and female doctors. Similarly, most contraceptives are readily available in the UAE to both married and unmarried women. Sex outside of marriage is illegal, however. Due to this, being pregnant and giving birth in the UAE without being wed is not recommended!

InterNations Expat Magazine