United Arab Emirates

View of Burj Al Arab
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates or states, bordered by Oman and Saudi Arabia. Once considered a desert wasteland, the UAE has mushroomed over the past two decades into an international blend of Eastern and Western-style commerce and tourism. On the healthcare front, the UAE offers patients over 170 JCI-accredited hospitals and specialty clinics, more than any single medical travel destination.

The city of Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE and also the center of government for the state of the same name. Abu Dhabi is home to more than 30 JCI-accredited hospitals.

The state of Dubai is the UAE's second largest emirate, also situated on the Persian Gulf. Dubai has grown spectacularly over the past decade into one of the Middle East’s largest commercial centers and most-visited tourism destination. Dubai alone boasts nearly 100 JCI-accredited hospitals.

The UAE and Medical Tourism

Most cross-border patients are either neighboring Middle Easterners seeking access to high-quality care not available in their homeland, or wounded patients from nearby war-torn countries, including Libya, Iran and Iraq. Larger multi-disciplinary facilities, such as the American Hospital, the Johns Hopkins-affiliated Tawam Hospital, and City Hospital, offer a full ranges of specialties, including cardiology, orthopedics, neurology and spine, reproductive medicine, and ENT.

The UAE’s two healthcare hubs, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, carry high costs of living, including healthcare and hospitality. Thus, medical travelers outside the region are largely comprised of affluent patients attracted to the many specialty and sub-specialty clinics offering cosmetic surgery, vision care, IVF/infertility, vein care and prosthesis. As one of the world’s tourism destinations, Dubai also is beginning to court the more casual,or "incidental," healthcare consumer, who might seek to offset the costs of a junket with health screenings and check-ups, or combine a visit with a cosmetic or dental procedure. The 360-bed Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, finally open for business after years of delays, brings tertiary and quaternary care to local patients and medical travelers.

Reclaiming the Middle Eastern Patient

For the past decade, thousands of Middle Eastern nationals have traveled to Thailand, Singapore, India, the US and other foreign destinations for healthcare. After a hard look at these costs, the Dubai government has acted to reclaim its regional base of patients. More than $100 million has been raised to realize this vision, which now includes facilities for medical care and wellness, research, and education. Dubai Healthcare City, founded in 2002, is an example of a healthcare cluster striving to build an infrastructure of quality metrics and excellent patient experience in combination with research and academic affiliations. The 4.1 million square foot campus has attracted a large general hospital (The City Hospital), a JCI-accredited cosmetic surgery hospital (American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital), and more than 100 specialty clinics and medical centers.

Additional Resources

Read the Patients Beyond Borders: Dubai Healthcare City Edition to learn more about healthcare options in the UAE. A fully translated Arabic edition is also available.

United Arab Emirates at a Glance

Central location and culturally-friendly care

Cities in Country:
Dubai, Abu Dhabi

Time Zones:
GMT +4

Country Dialing Code:

240V, plug type G

UAE Dirham (AED)

Recommended Immunizations:
Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid Booster

Arabic, Persian, English widely spoken

Last updated on 23 December 2017