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Education and Healthcare in Dubai

Living in Dubai means living in the most important expat destination in the Middle East. Does this sound like a great idea to you? Read our InterNations Expat Guide to find out what to expect from life in Dubai! Learn all about accommodation, healthcare, and education for expat children.
Medical exams are mandatory for getting a residence visa for Dubai.

Education for Everyone 

There are many schools in Dubai for children of all ages and nationalities. Various state and private schools address the different needs of local and expat children alike. Nurseries and child-care facilities offer a great variety of curricula and educational approaches as well, with quite a few following the Montessori Method. However, most of these pre-schools do not accept children younger than 18 months of age. Many English-language schools start their first term in September, as all schools in Dubai are closed in July and August when the temperatures reach their peak.

International schools offer curricula for various nationalities as well as the International Baccalaureate. The quality of sports facilities and after-school activities may vary. However, many international schools in Dubai offer excellent extracurricular programs. Day-boarding facilities are also available. Unfortunately, international schools are usually private schools and generally rather expensive. The exact fees can vary, depending on school type and facilities. 

The entrance criteria, documents required and the nature of the admission test are clearly defined by UAE education laws and are the same for all schools in Dubai. To make sure you choose the right school for your child, you can have a look at regular school inspection reports and ratings, published online by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority.

Higher Education in Dubai

As Dubai’s international population is growing rapidly, it has become more and more important to invest in higher education. The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) offer different majors at 15 men’s and women’s campuses all over the UAE, with several representative locations in Dubai. Here men and women can take degrees in Business, Applied Communications, Information Technology, or Engineering.

Additionally, there are great educational opportunities at the Center of Excellence for Applied Research and Training (CERT). This institution is the largest private education provider in the Middle East. In addition to local universities, some top-notch foreign universities offer degrees and courses here as well:

  • Harvard Medical School Dubai Center
  • London Business School
  • Manchester Business School
  • Warwick Business School
  • Cass Business School

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority has a full list of the universities in Dubai. 

State Universities

Other than that, the UAE University also has a brilliant reputation, offering more than 50 majors. Unfortunately, like most state universities in the UAE, it caters predominantly to Emiratis. Only very few foreigners are accepted at these institutions and the application process is challenging. However, the Zayed University welcomes Emiratis and expats alike.

No matter which university in Dubai you are interested in, as an applicant you have to fulfill its admission criteria and pass the Common Educational Proficiency Assessment (CEPA) test.

Dubai Health Card

All expats coming to Dubai need to undergo a medical exam and blood tests to ensure their health and capability to work. This is required in order to receive a residence visa and an e-card and e-contract for work. The exam is therefore often arranged through the employer.

After you have gone through these tests, you can apply for a health card which entitles you to basic medical treatments at public hospitals and clinics. Health cards are valid for one year and can be renewed online. To apply for this card, you may need the following documents:

  • passport copy
  • covering letter from your sponsor
  • copy of your visa application
  • two passport size photos
  • tenancy contract
  • completed application form (in Arabic)

A card for anyone over the age of 17 costs 300 AED and is valid for one year. The prices for children’s cards vary depending on their age group but for all non-UAE Nationals, the card will only be valid for one year before it needs renewed. This can easily be done online.

You can pick up your application form from any public hospital and submit it, typed in Arabic, at your local healthcare center. The Department of Health and Medical Services has more information on obtaining a Dubai health card.

Health Insurance

The health card only covers very basic treatments, so many expats opt for additional private health insurance. This also allows them to seek treatment at one of Dubai’s many private hospitals with international staff. Having said this, Dubai’s public hospitals and medical institutions generally have high standards.

It is not unusual for employers to take care of private insurance costs, so make sure to ask about it when negotiating your contract.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Peter B. Krehmer

"There are so many expats in the UAE, but the InterNations Dubai Ramadan dinners brought some wonderful guests together. "

Suzanne Payne

"Dubai is such an overwhelming mixture of tradition and modernity that I was very grateful for all the support from other expats. "

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