Your maternity rights
According to UAE law, it is illegal to be pregnant if you are unmarried, and many hospitals now require you to show a marriage certificate along with copies of your passport and visa page at your first check up. If you are pregnant and unmarried, the law states that you will need to get married to your partner, or deliver the baby in your home country. Terminations are illegal in the UAE, unless they are sanctioned by a hospital for medical reasons.
If you are a working mum-to-be, your maternity entitlement depends upon where you are employed. If you work in the private sector, the Labour Law states that you are entitled to 45 days’ maternity leave with full pay (which includes the time both before and after the baby arrives), once you have been at the company for a full year. If you have been employed for less than one year, you are entitled to the same period of leave on half pay. Dads in the private sector are not usually entitled to paternity leave.
For government employees, women are eligible for 60 days’ paid maternity leave, and 100 days’ unpaid leave. New dads who are working for the government are also entitled to three days’ paternity leave. In DIFC, mums-to-be are entitled to 45 days of paid leave, and 45 days of unpaid leave, on the condition that you have completed more than 12 months of full employment for your company before the eighth week of pregnancy, and have notified your employer about the pregnancy in writing at least eight weeks before your due date.
When you do return to work, the law also states that nursing mothers are entitled to two half-hour breaks per day for breastfeeding or expressing, which will not be deducted from your salary.
Choosing a hospital
For a normal, full-term pregnancy, you have a range of options for both your pre-natal care and delivery, whether you go private, or decide to deliver at Al Wasl Hospital or Dubai Hospital, which are both government run.
If you decide to go private, the cost of pre-natal and delivery in Dubai doesn’t come cheap if you are not covered by your insurance policy. You can have your pre-natal checks at a private clinic, where your obstetrician will then deliver your baby at one of the larger private hospitals (check out page 16 for details), or choose to have all your pre-natal consultations at the same hospital which has a delivery ward.
There is a vast choice of good obstetricians in Dubai, male and female, from all cultures and nationalities, not to mention a wide variety in pricing between private clinics and hospitals, so it is worth shopping around until you are 100 per cent happy with the care you are receiving. Individual pre-natal appointments can range from around Dhs300 to Dhs500+, not including scans or extra tests. Many women choose to book an antenatal package that includes an initial consultation, follow up appointments and all tests and scans (costing from around Dhs2,700 to Dhs7,500 depending on the hospital), followed by a delivery package, which can cost upwards of Dhs10,000, depending on whether you have a natural birth, epidural or C-section).
If you choose to have your baby at a government hospital, the two that are specially equipped for maternity care are Al Wasl Hospital and Dubai Hospital. A more affordable option, while they may be lacking in some of the creature comforts of going private, they are still highly reputed and you will also likely be transferred to one of these units should there be any complications during the pregnancy or birth. To register your intent to give birth at one of the government hospitals, you will need to provide a valid health card, plus marriage certificate and visa, as well as proof of your current address, such as a Dewa bill
or rental contract.
The terms of your maternity insurance will depend on the level of cover that you have signed up for, as well as the length of time that you have been insured. Coverage can range from no maternity entitlement whatsoever, to full coverage, including the birth and hospital stay, so it’s always worth checking in advance before you start trying for a baby. Here are the terms of some popular Dubai insurers:
Bupa International: Maternity care is covered under the Worldwide Medical Plus scheme, which includes pre- and post-natal care (including up to seven days’ care for your baby), and pregnancy and childbirth complications. Only available for members who have been insured for 10+ months.
Axa Gulf: Axa’s local health insurance plan covers pre- and post-natal complications after 12 months’ of membership. Pregnancy and delivery, up to a cost of Dhs25,000 are covered by the scheme after 24 months’ membership.
Daman: Maternity cover is provided in the UAE Plan, however there is a waiting period of 180 days from when a customer initially signs up (there is no waiting period if pre-requisition of uninterrupted (pre-)coverage with governmental health card is fulfilled).
Birth certificate and visa
After the birth, if you still haven’t settled on a name, you have a maximum of 30 days to get a birth certificate for your new baby. Your hospital will issue a notification of birth certificate in Arabic, but for an English certificate, you’ll need to head to Al Baraha hospital, where you’ll get an application form from the Birth Certificate Office. After a translator at the hospital has typed up your application in English, both versions will be attested by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign affairs. Other documentation you will have to provide is an original and copy of both parents’ birth certificates plus residency visas, copy of attested marriage certificate, and discharge papers from the hospital where you delivered.
For a residency visa, parents are required to apply within 120 days after the baby is born (and will accrue a Dhs100 for every extra day). The documentation required includes an application form, baby’s original passport, original and copy of baby’s birth certificate (which has been attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), three passport photos of the baby, passport copy of the sponsor, and the sponsor’s salary certificate or job contract. The documents will need to be typed up at a certified typing office, then taken to the residency department of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (call 800 5111 or visit www.dnrd.ae). Residence fees are charged at Dhs100 for each year, plus Dhs115 adding fees.