Healthcare System in UAE

Healthcare System in UAE

Whether you aim to establish a foundational understanding or seek to expand your knowledge, explore the intricacies of healthcare system in UAE.

The healthcare system in UAE presents a combination of public and private sectors. While Emirati citizens benefit from free universal healthcare services in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, expatriates from abroad are typically required to secure private insurance for their medical expenses. It’s important to note that what may be considered ‘standard’ treatments in some cases might not be as prevalent as one might assume.

Healthcare System in UAE

How does Healthcare System in UAE Work?

Healthcare system in UAE works as…

The Healthcare System in UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), also known as الإمارات العربية المتحدة (al’iimarat alearabiat almutahida) in Arabic, boasts a renowned healthcare system that has earned its reputation as the leading healthcare system in the Middle East, as of 2022. Globally recognized, it excels in delivering high-quality medical services, particularly in areas such as vision and eye care, dental care, cancer treatment, and cosmetic surgery.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) comprises seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. Government legislation mandates that all emirates must provide universal healthcare to their citizens. However, at present, universal healthcare is available only in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHaP), known as وزارة الصحة ووقاية المجتمع (wizarat alsihat wawiqayat almujtamae) in Arabic, is responsible for overseeing national healthcare regulations. It also plays a pivotal role in accrediting both public and private hospitals in the UAE.

The emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah have established their individual regional healthcare authorities to govern both public and private healthcare sectors, each with its distinctive oversight:

  • The Abu Dhabi Department of Health (DoH – دائرة الصحة, dayirat alsiha)
  • The Dubai Health Authority (DHA – هيئة الصحة بدبي, hayyat alsihat bidubay)
  • The Sharjah Health Authority (SHA – هيئة الشارقة الصحية, hayyat alshaariqat alsihiya)

In contrast, the remaining four emirates depend on the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHaP) to serve as their regulatory authority.

According to a study by the nonprofit think tank Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP), the Emirati healthcare system received a moderate score in 2020. This rating is influenced, in part, by factors such as limited patient choice, issues related to access, and contributions to the field of medical science and technology.

Access to Healthcare in the UAE

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the rules regarding healthcare access are as follows:

  • UAE Nationals: All UAE citizens are required to have mandatory health insurance to access free or subsidized public healthcare services.

  • Expats and Foreign Residents: This category includes individuals from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC – مجلس التعاون لدول الخليج العربية, majlis altaeawun lidual alkhalij alearabia). They must obtain private health insurance to cover their medical expenses. Failure to do so may result in fines of up to AED 500 ($136) per month.

Healthcare System in UAE

Healthcare Costs in the UAE

In 2020, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) allocated approximately AED 72.4 billion ($19.7 billion) to healthcare, which amounts to roughly AED 7,317 ($1,992) per person. This healthcare expenditure surpasses both the 2022 GCC average of $17.4 billion and the 2021 European Union (EU) average of $16.1 billion.

The healthcare system in UAE is financed through a combination of taxes and a mandatory health insurance scheme. Additional costs for medical treatments can vary depending on the specific emirate in which you seek healthcare services. For instance, UAE citizens enjoy access to free healthcare in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, while in other emirates, you may be required to cover some or all of the costs associated with your medical procedure.

Health Insurance in the UAE

UAE nationals have the option to enroll in public health insurance plans tailored to their respective emirates. These plans include:

  • Thiqa – designed for residents of Abu Dhabi
  • ENAYA – available for residents of Dubai
  • Sharjah Health Insurance – offered to individuals residing in Sharjah

Expatriates, on the other hand, must secure insurance through one of the numerous private insurance providers operating within the UAE. If you are employed in the UAE, your employer or sponsor typically arranges insurance coverage for you and, in some cases, your family. Alternatively, if you are not employed or plan to travel throughout the MENA region, you can also opt for an international health insurance provider.

The cost of private health insurance in the UAE varies depending on the extent of coverage. Generally, individual policies range from AED 5,500 to 10,000 per year, while family plans typically cost between AED 10,000 and 18,000 per year. Some reputable insurance companies with expat-friendly policies include:

How to Enroll in Healthcare as an Expat in the UAE?

If you possess private insurance, you have the flexibility to access both public and private healthcare facilities. However, to book appointments at a public hospital (مستشفى, mustashfaa), you are required to have a health card (بطاقة صحية, bitaqat sihiya). You can initiate the application process for a health card either online or in-person at a typing center (مركز الطباعة, markaz altibaea).

For the application, you’ll need to present a valid Emirates ID. In the event you do not yet have an Emirates ID, you can alternatively apply for a health card by submitting your valid passport with a valid entry visa or residence card.

You will be required to complete the following essential information:

  • Details of your local health center
  • Full name in both English and Arabic
  • Date of birth
  • Nationality
  • Contact details, comprising your mobile number and email address

The application fee varies based on your nationality. GCC nationals are charged AED 35,000, while non-GCC nationals pay AED 115,000. Once your health card application is approved, you can download and print the card from the Health Card System. Additionally, since it is linked to your Emirates ID, you can utilize your ID card to access healthcare services.

The validity of the health card spans five years for GCC nationals and one year for non-GCC nationals.


In conclusion, the Healthcare System in UAE stands as a pillar of the nation’s commitment to ensuring the well-being of its residents. The comprehensive framework of the Healthcare System in UAE encompasses a range of services, from preventive care to advanced medical treatments, fostering a holistic approach to health. The continuous investments and innovations in the Healthcare System in UAE underscore the nation’s dedication to providing accessible, high-quality healthcare services.

Moreover, the adaptability and responsiveness of the Healthcare System in UAE have been crucial, especially in times of public health challenges. The resilience demonstrated by the Healthcare System in UAE reflects its ability to evolve and meet the dynamic needs of the population. As the UAE continues to prioritize the development and enhancement of its Healthcare System, it ensures a healthier and more prosperous future for its residents. The ongoing commitment to the Healthcare System in UAE is instrumental in creating a robust foundation for the overall well-being of the nation.