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Health Emergencies for Expats in the United Arab Emirates

Submitted: December 2013

If you are in an emergency situation, you must go to a hospital or call 999 straightaway. If you can go to the hospital for yourself, you should normally do so without dialling 999. In such circumstances, going by car is normally the fastest way to go.

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, especially if you can speak neither Arabic nor English.

Emergency numbers

The emergency number in the UAE is 999. 999 calls may be responded to in English or in Arabic. Calls to 999 are generally free. Additional emergency numbers may be available in the emirate you live in. It is possible, for example, to dial 998 in Dubai.

In the UAE, you had better not commit a criminal offence. If you are assisting someone who urgently needs help, remember that you should let the authorities do their work. In such situations, it’s best to call 999 and describe exactly the situation to the 999 advisers. They will then let you know the best course of action. Don’t take too much initiatives unless you’re 100% sure it’s the right thing to do.

Alternatively, you can call a doctor’s out-of-hours service or a hospital. In Dubai, you can call 800-DOCTOR at +971 800 362867.

Emergency response

The healthcare system depends on the emirate you live in. Although there is some cooperation at national level, the system is not fully harmonised. Regarding emergency response efficiency, the UAE is doing well, but this is still not as good as Western countries.

You can ask 999 advisers when the ambulance is expected to arrive. If you think it’s going to take too long, you can still decide to take a taxi in borderline cases,

Cost of emergency treatment

Healthcare is not free in the UAE, and this includes emergency care and ambulances. However, treatment for life-threatening emergencies may be provided free of charge at public hospitals with no questions asked.

Travel advice

It is commonly said that the best way to solve health problems is through prevention.

Many countries provide updated travel information to their citizens, and this often includes health advice. You should regularly check the Foreign Office website of your home country to see if there are any specific steps you need to make. Alternatively, you can go to your local embassy in the UAE.

Remember that the UAE is one of the warmest countries in the world, with temperatures frequently exceeding 50 degrees Celsius. It’s not even close to the 40 degrees you may sometimes have in Europe/North America during summer time. The Indian subcontinent does not have such continuous heat either. So you had better prepare for living under this 50 degrees heat in advance, at least psychologically.



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