Goal 3: The goal aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Providing world-class healthcare is one of the six pillars of the UAE National Agenda in line with Vision 2021.


For the year 2016, the UAE Government had allocated 7.9 per cent of the budget amounting to approximately AED 3.83 billion for the health sector alone.

Healthcare facilities


As per 2014 statistics released by Federal Statistics and Competitive Authority, there were 79 hospitals, 10,165 physicians and 16,882 nurses in the private sector.


There were 36 hospitals, 6,504 physicians and 16,547 nurses in the government sector. 


To provide better healthcare services and to ease access to health facilities, the UAE has opened healthcare cities. These are complexes having clinics of various specialties. Presently, there are three healthcare cities in the UAE. They are:


The UAE Government sends UAE nationals abroad for medical treatment if treatment is not available in the UAE.


In case of an emergency

In case of a medical emergency, you can get help by calling for the ambulance on 998 (from anywhere in the UAE). An air ambulance could be sent for the patient if needed.


In the emirate of Abu Dhabi, if there is a medical emergency for people with special needs, you can get help by sending an SMS to 5999. You are required to send information about the incident, location of the patient and a phone number on which the police can contact you.


Health portal

The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention offers a ‘Smart Patient’ portal through which patients can view their health profiles and their upcoming appointments.  


Health insurance


Health insurance for UAE nationals

Abu Dhabi

Under the ‘Thiqa' programme, Abu Dhabi Government provides full medical coverage for all UAE nationals living in Abu Dhabi. Citizens get a Thiqa card, through which they get comprehensive access to a large number of private and public healthcare providers registered within Daman's network. It also includes broader geographical coverage and extra health benefits.


In order to qualify for the Thiqa programme, UAE nationals living in Abu Dhabi who are 18 to 75 years old need to undergo the ‘Weqaya' screening run by Health Authority - Abu Dhabi. The health check is done in order to identify cardiovascular risk factors, and may be waived only in exceptional cases.


Amendments to insurance programmes

HAAD announced a number of amendments to health insurance programmes to both the ‘Thiqa’ plan and the Abu Dhabi Basic Plan. The amendments came into effect from 1 July 2016. They were designed to utilise the health insurance system in increasing overall efficiency across the sector to better meet current and future demands.



Saada is a health insurance programme for the citizens in the emirate of Dubai. It provides insurance coverage to citizens who do not currently benefit from any government health programme in the emirate of Dubai. The programme provides treatment through a large network of healthcare providers in the private sector and DHA healthcare centres. Citizens' Emirates ID card carries details of the Saada programme they are subscribed to.


Health insurance for resident expatriates 

The extent of coverage for employers and their dependents is determined by the employee's salary, designation etc. The extent of coverage and type of policy/scheme would determine the cost of your medical services.


In the emirate of Abu Dhabi, employers and sponsors are responsible for the providing health insurance coverage for their employees and their families (1 spouse and 3 children under 18 years).


In the emirate of Dubai, employers are required to provide health insurance coverage for their employees. Sponsors are required to get insurance cover for their resident dependents. 


There are several insurance companies in the UAE. Many also provide Islamic insurance (takaful). The website of Insurance Authority provides a list of registered insurance companies in the UAE.


Alternative medicine in the UAE

The UAE issues professional licence in the fields of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (TCAM). Medical care can be acquired in the following streams of alternative medicinal:

  • Ayurveda
  • Chiropractic Medicine
  • Homeopathy
  • Naturopathic Medicine
  • Osteopathic Medicine
  • Therapeutic Massage
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Unani Medicine


Patients’ rights and responsibilities

The UAE Government guarantees the patients their rights and obligates them with responsibilities. Patients’ rights and responsibilities are listed in the patient's charter of rights and responsibilities which are displayed at all clinics and hospitals. Patients can file complaints about improper service or malpractices to the respective health authorities. You can find related information on the websites of Health Authority – Abu Dhabi and Dubai Healthy Authority.   



The UAE has a zero-tolerance policy for recreational use of drugs. Federal Law No. 14 of 1995 criminalises production, import, export, transport, buying, selling, possessing, storing of narcotic and psychotropic substances unless done so as part of supervised and regulated medical or scientific activities in accordance with the applicable laws. The UAE police has dedicated departments to deal with drugs’ issues.



The UAE Federal Law No. 15 of 2009 regarding Tobacco Control forbids and penalises

  • the sale of tobacco products to those under 18
  • smoking in private cars when a child under the age of 12 is present
  • smoking in houses of worship, educational institutions (such as universities and schools), health and sports facilities
  • the sale of sweets which resemble tobacco products
  • automatic vending equipment and devices for tobacco distribution inside the country
  • tobacco advertisement
  • smoking in closed public spaces 


Shisha cafes, except those that have applied for a special licence, are banned from operating within 150 metres of residential areas, schools and mosques.


Dubai Municipality has banned smoking shisha in parks, beaches and all public recreational areas in Dubai.[i] It has also prohibited the entry of pregnant women into shisha cafes; regardless of their intention to smoke.


In 2008, the Sharjah government had banned all kinds of smoking in public areas including smoking of shisha.


Now, the UAE’s National Tobacco Control Committee intends to bring a complete ban on smoking in public areas.


Reducing consumption of cigarettes and tobacco products is one of the key performance indicators of the pillar of world-class healthcare of the UAE National Agenda. The UAE aims to reduce tobacco consumption from 21.6 per cent to 15.7 per cent among men and from 1.9 per cent to 1.66 per cent among women by the year 2021.


Special needs’ health

Federal Law No. 29 of 2006 Concerning the Rights of People with Special Needs protects the rights of people with special needs and guarantees them the right to live with dignity.


Article 2 of the law provides: A person's special needs shall not be a reason to deprive him/her of their rights and services especially in welfare as well as social, economic, health, educational, professional, cultural and leisure services.


The Ministry of Health and Prevention issues Disability assessment report and accredits medical reports of people with special needs.


Health Authority Abu Dhabi provides assesses the mental status and work fitness level for people with special needs.


Senior people’s health and rehabilitation

Ministry of Health and Prevention has launched several initiatives for the benefit of senior people. One of these initiatives is to create a database to monitor the life expectancy of older persons in the country and expand the healthcare programmes and services especially home care services.


The ministry provides mobile clinic services in remote areas of Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah. The services include medical care, rehabilitation, natural treatments, preventive measures, dental, optical, dermatological and diabetes treatments. The mobile clinic in Ras Al Khaimah does not offer dental treatments.


Free vaccines

The UAE Government regularly announces campaigns under which it offers free vaccines to citizens and residents.  In September 2016, citizens and residents between the ages of 19 and 34 were offered free MMR vaccines to prevent the spread of measles, mumps and rubella.


Innovation in health

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Fund to Finance Innovation

In November 2015, Sheikh Mohammed launched the Fund to Finance Innovation with a value of AED2 billion, which is a federal initiative designed to provide financing solutions for innovators across various sectors within the UAE. Priority will go to renewable energy, transport, education, health, technology, water and space sectors, and applicants must provide a business development plan to be eligible for funding. The fund is managed by Ministry of Finance in collaboration with local banks and various investment entities. 


National Innovation Strategy

In 2014, H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the National Innovation Strategy that aims to make the UAE among the most innovative nations in the world within seven years. The strategy targets seven sectors:

  • renewable energy
  • transport
  • education
  • health
  • technology
  • water
  • space.


The first phase includes 30 national initiatives to be completed within three years, which include:

  • ·new legislation
  • innovation incubators
  • investment in specialised skills
  • private-sector incentives
  • international research partnerships
  • an innovation drive within government.


The strategy will promote advanced technologies in healthcare services. It will stimulate the growth of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries while also working with strategic partners to support medical research.


Health strategy

Read about Abu Dhabi Healthcare Strategic Plan and Dubai Health Strategy 2021.


Non-governmental efforts

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives not only provide aid but also combat the root causes of poverty and disease worldwide. Their programmes have assisted 40 million people in 99 countries by 2015.


In the fight against the spread of disease, their programmes have prevented and treated blindness for 23 million people and provided 81 million vaccines and medications in the past eight years. They have protected 3.6 million children in vulnerable countries from intestinal worms, which threaten their health and future. They have also built 46 hospitals.


According to the UAEInteract website, between 1971 and 2014, the UAE spent 2billion AED on projects associated with children’s health, education and relief efforts in Asia and Africa. Some of these programmes involved vaccinating children against polio and measles with a special focus on Pakistani and Afghanistani children.


Read more about services and information under health.


Read more about the sustainable development goal ‘Good health and well-being’.


Useful links:

Achievement Progress


Infant mortality rate (2015)


Neonatal mortality rate (2015)


Proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel (2010)