Medical Tourism in the United Arab Emirates and Dubai

The United Arab Emirates, one of the fastest growing tourist destinations, has a very young medical tourism industry which is growing rapidly. It offers the sun, sand, sea, excellent hotels and restaurants with countless types of cuisines, an enriched culture and safe and secure environment and a shopper’s paradise.

What makes UAE a star attraction for medical tourism is their medical facilities in emirates such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah with their state of the art hospitals. They boast of an English speaking staff with doctor of several nationalities available. Many hospitals are acquiring international accreditation to attract medical tourists and boost business.

When deciding on a place for medical tourism, it is important to keep a few important things in mind;

  1. Research – It is important to research the medical tourism history of the country and how good their medical services are.
  2. The cost of treatment – It has to be less than what you would have spent in your own country.
  3. Safety – Check the crime rate of the country you’re thinking of travelling to for medical purposes. Is it safe for tourists?
  4. Specialties – Make sure the country you’re considering for medical tourism has specializations in the medical field you’re going to be treated in.
  5. Hospitals and doctors – Does it have reputable hospitals and doctors of international standards?

There are many factors that make UAE a viable destination for a medical trip.

  • It has a large number of internationally accredited hospitals.
  • English is widely spoken, and hospitals make it a point to appoint English speaking staff.
  • Security is not an issue. UAE is one of the safest countries in the world.
  • Favorable exchange rate of currency in comparison to Dollar, Pound or Euro, significantly lowering the cost of treatment.
  • It is a great holiday destination with many tourist attractions and is a shopper’s paradise.


United Arab Emirates is a late entry in the medical tourism industry. Dubai was the first emirate to get international accreditation for one of its hospital. American Hospital Dubai was accredited by JCI in 2000. Joint Commission International (JCI) is one of the leading accreditation organizations in the United States. Most of the accredited hospitals are in Dubai, which has been at the fore front of helping develop the industry. Dubai is developing Dubai Health-care City in collaboration with Harvard Medical College.

After Dubai, Abu Dhabi is the leading emirate with six accredited hospitals under its belt. The third and last emirate to have a JCI accredited hospital to its name is Sharjah. Zulekha Hospital Sharjah was accredited in 2007. So far fifteen hospitals in the UAE have been accredited by JCI.


Crime rate in UAE is one of the lowest in the world. Travelling by road to any one of the seven emirates is extremely safe. So is travelling on foot around the city. However, general safety measures should be taken at all costs while travelling to any country. The people are friendly and always willing to help.


The national currency of the UAE is Dirham. The sub unit of Dirham is called Fils. 100 fils make up Dhs 1. One of the reasons that make UAE attractive to potential medical tourists is the rate of exchange between the Dirham and other popular currencies like Dollar and Pound. For medical tourists travelling to UAE from the America or Europe, travelling costs are reduced by that factor alone. $1 = Dhs 3.6, £1 = Dhs 6.5 and €1 = Dhs 5.2 approx.

But it should be noticed that the cost of treatment in UAE is still more expensive than India, Singapore and other countries that have been in the medical tourism industry for a longer period. A heart by-pass surgery costs $18,500 in Singapore, $11,000 in Thailand and $10,000 in India as compared to $44,000 in the UAE.

There is no limit to the kind of medical treatment a person can get in the UAE. From plastic surgeries to treatment for cardiovascular diseases, UAE offers it all. Making sure that you do your research prior to leaving for a medical trip is of utmost importance. Contact your local doctor for advice and get in touch with your country’s embassy in UAE for help and more information. Also get in touch with the hospitals that you are interested in and get informed about the kind of treatments they have. The comfort and confidence level is essential in a medical trip. Being away from family, friends and everything that is familiar is not easy. If you’re not confident about the treatment you’re going for, then it will only cause undue stress and worry.

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