Pharmacies are easy to find throughout the UAE, and many are open 24 hours a day. Medication is often expensive in the UAE, so expats should remember to keep receipts to submit to their medical insurance provider. A wide range of prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and medical supplies are available in UAE, but tranquillisers, anti-depressants and sleeping pills are heavily regulated. For patients using these medications, it is advised to carry a notarised translated copy of the prescription with an original cover letter from the prescribing doctor explaining the requirement.
Many of the major health risks in the UAE are related to the extreme heat. Dehydration and heatstroke are a particular concern, especially for those used to a much cooler climate. The sand and dust, brought on by desert winds and regular construction, can also trigger and aggravate symptoms for those with pre-existing respiratory conditions. It’s best to remain indoors during the hottest times of the day – preferably in an air-conditioned building. Expats should also stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
The UAE is generally well equipped to handle medical emergencies. Expats can dial 999 for an ambulance. Alternately, they can dial the number given by their health insurance provider, where they are likely to have access to an English-speaking operator.