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Health Emergencies for Expats in Saudi Arabia

Submitted: July 2014

In an emergency, call 997 or go straight to a hospital. Calling 997 will put you in contact with the Saudi Arabian Red Crescent Authority. 997 advisors generally speak English.

If you have an arrangement with a specific hospital as part of your insurance plan say it straightaway.

It is always advisable not to be alone at the hospital. Thus, you should call somebody to come with you to the hospital as soon as possible, preferably an Arabic-speaking acquaintance.

 

Public vs. private emergency services

If you call 997, the ambulance will take you to a public hospital. However, private hospitals may run their own emergency service as well.

From a practical point of view, you should look for the emergency number of your nearest private hospital as soon as you arrive in Saudi Arabia. You might wish to register your insurance details with that hospital beforehand in order to avoid disappointment later on.

Opting for private ambulances is not necessarily the most suitable thing to do. In fact, their staff may have considerably less medical training than their public counterparts.

 

Upfront payments

Hospitals should not require upfront payment in an emergency. However, your situation should be really critical.

Such problems should not happen if you have previously registered your insurance details with the hospital, or if you carry your Saudi insurance card with you.

 

24-hour pharmacies

Saudi towns generally always have at least one pharmacy opened. This is usually either because a hospital provides for it, or because the pharmacies in your local area have arranged a rotation.

If you urgently need medicines outside of the usual opening hours, check the 24-hour pharmacy system in place in your local area.

 

Hajj season

Pilgrims can have free healthcare services at Government hospitals during the Hajj season. Common health problems that may arise are:

  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Heat exhaustation
  • Dehydration
  • Burns
  • Food poisoning
  • Kidney-related illness

The coronavirus has been reported to be a health threat for pilgrims as well.

 

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