What to do in case of an emergency


If you’re a western expatriate, don’t expect Dubai’s emergency services and ambulances to be as efficient or widespread as in your home country.

Ambulance services exist (since end of 2009 Dubai even owns the world's largest ambulance) but these are usually controlled by the police (and used primarily for road accidents) or by the state hospitals. If you need to get to hospital quickly, the most reliable method is to use your own transport or go by taxi. This is common in the region. Even the victims of road accidents, if their injuries aren’t too severe, are often bundled into a car or taxi and taken to hospital. Police and emergency services are sometimes equipped with helicopter services, but these are only used for road accidents, beach accidents involving drowning and evacuations from difficult terrain.

On arrival in Dubai, you should immediately take note of the emergency telephone numbers, the location of the major hospitals and their facilities, and the quickest route to the nearest hospital with an accident and emergency department. Your work colleagues can advise you about the best places to go. Keep the telephone number of a taxi service by the telephone in case your own transport is unavailable. Your private doctor will usually make house calls if requested in non-emergency cases.

In the case of a medical emergency, observe the following procedure:

  1. If you’re able to, go directly to the nearest hospital with an accident and emergency department.
  2. If you don’t have your own transport and an ambulance service exists, call the ambulance number. The operator will be able to speak both Arabic and English and will respond in the language that you use. (Although English is widely spoken by the emergency services, telephone operators, etc., it’s useful to know a few appropriate words of Arabic to use if the need arises.) You will be asked to identify yourself and give your address; remember that you might have to give directions, using nearby landmarks rather than the street number. You will also be asked about the type of medical problem. If it’s life-threatening, such as a heart attack or a serious accident, make this clear.
  3. Ask for an expected time of arrival of an ambulance and whether trained medical personnel will be in attendance. The answer might persuade you to call a taxi.
  4. If calling a taxi, make sure that the driver or taxi company understands the urgency of the situation.

As an expatriate you will most probably be transported to a private healthcare facility to be treated in case of an emergency, so make sure you have your insurance information nearby. However, public facilities can still be used by foreigners in Dubai. If taken to one, you will be assessed to see if your emergency is life-threatening or not. If it is, you will be admitted through emergency services free of charge. For those whose life is not threatened, they will be referred to the Walk In Clinic which operates 24 hours and accepted as a walk in patient. This means that if you do not have a DHA valid health care card, you will be charged approximately 200AED.

Keep the following emergency numbers handy in case you ever need them:

Police (emergency): 999

Police (non-emergency): 901

Ambulance: 998 or 999

Coast guard: 996

Fire Department: 997

Water / Electricity: 991

For updates regarding emergency care in Dubai, visit our website on expatriate health: http://www.expathealth.org .

Further reading

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