If you’ve come from a country like the UK with a national health service, Dubai’s system can be confusing at first. Here you don’t need to register with a specific GP; you can make an appointment at any clinic in the city, so you can try a few to find the doctor you are most comfortable with.
Remember to take proof of your medical insurance and health card with you. Depending on your insurance cover, you might have to pay a percentage of the consultation fee, or the whole bill in full and then claim back the cost from your insurance provider.
To find out more about private healthcare clinics, call the Dubai Health Care City on 800 432 584 or see www.dhcc.ae.
If you have an accident or fall violently sick, call 997 for an ambulance, or go to one of the city’s hospitals. Both government and private hospitals operate in Dubai and all have an A&E department. Generally, they are open 24 hours, but it’s worth phoning ahead. If you are injured in a road traffic accident you should be treated at a government hospital, such as Rashid Hospital or Dubai Hospital.
If you have a specific health complaint, or want to see a specialist, then it’s possible to make an appointment directly with one, thus by-passing the GP referral stage. For a searchable guide visit www.doctor-dubai.com.
It is advisable to get medical insurance if living in Dubai. Your company should offer a basic cover at the least but, if you are unemployed, there are loads of insurance companies and packages on offer that cover most budgets. Try Alliance Insurance Company (www.alliance-uae.com) or Emirates Insurance Company (www.eminsco.com).
Once you have your cover, you will be sent a plastic card, which is advisable to carry in your wallet at all times in case of an emergency. Present this at the clinic or hospital and complete the necessary forms.
Depending on your insurance, you might have to pay an excess of Dhs100, a percentage of the consultation fee, or the whole bill, which you claim back later.
Help! I don’t have medical cover
There are lots of pay-as-you-go doctors, clinics and hospitals in Dubai that will treat the uninsured for a fee. Options range in price and value to sufficiently cater for most budgets. Generally, it’s much cheaper to visit a regional doctor or clinic, or one from the subcontinent, than it is to visit a European or North American medical practice.
Again, like GPs, choose the practice that best suits you and make an appointment direct. You don’t have to stick with the same dentist. If you are unhappy, find another one offering the services you need. Prices are quite steep but the quality of service is worth the price. If your insurance doesn’t cover dental then you can opt to top up your cover, or pay a premium, or just pay as you go. A number of practices in Dubai specialise in cosmetic dentistry if you want to brighten up your smile. Try Talass Orthodontic and Dental Centre (04 349 2220) or Hollywood Smile (04 423 3634).
Opticians can be found in every mall in Dubai and usually can sort you out with an eye test immediately. If you need an eye test for your driver’s licence, remember to take with you copies of your passport and photos. You might have to pay a fee of Dhs100.
Several hospitals and medical centres in the city have ophthalmology departments, which offer specialist outpatient and non-surgical treatments and corrective surgeries. These include: Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai (04 429 7888; www.moorfields.ae), and Gulf Eye Center (04 329 1977; www.gulfeyecenter.com).