Health and International Medical Insurance Cover in the Middle East

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A reciprocal agreement for urgent medical treatment exists with the UK, although proof of UK residence is required. Power shortages and disrupted medical supplies have undermined normal health services to such a degree that travelers would be well advised to consider international medical insurance cover guaranteeing emergency evacuation in case of serious accident or illness, as medical insurance is not often valid within the country. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. Travelers are also advised to take a supply of those medicines that they are likely to require (but check first that they may be legally imported), as there is a severe shortage of even the most basic medical supplies, such as disposable needles, anesthetics and antibiotics. Elderly travelers and those with existing health problems may be at risk owing to inadequate medical facilities.

There is a comprehensive medical service, with general and specialised hospitals in the main towns. An emergency health service is provided free of charge or at a nominal fee. Pharmacies are well equipped with supplies. Full medical insurance is strongly advised.

Iran (Islamic Republic Of)
Health facilities are limited outside Tehran. International medical insurance cover is essential.

Health insurance including emergency repatriation cover is essential. Basic modern medical care and medicines may not be available. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for services.

Israel has excellent medical facilities and tourists may go to all emergency departments and first-aid centres. Health centres are marked by the red Star of David on a white background. Medical insurance is recommended.

Jo rdan
Health insurance is recommended. There are excellent hospitals in large towns and cities, with clinics in many villages.

Medical insurance is essential. Both private and government health services are available.

International medical insurance cover is essential. Lebanese hospitals are very modern and well equipped and many doctors are highly qualified, reputed to be among the best in the world. All doctors speak either English or French. The majorities of hospitals in the region are private and require proof of the patient's ability to pay the bill before providing treatment (even in emergency cases). Visitors who are not insured and require hospitalisation should contact their Embassy for advice. Standards at Lebanon's public hospitals are much lower. The two best hospitals in the country are the Hotel Dieu in Achrafieh, Beirut and the American University/AUB Hospital in Hamra, Beirut.

Oman has an extensive public health service (free to Omani nationals), with approximately 46 hospitals, 86 health centres and 65 preventative health centres. However, costs are high for foreigners and international medical insurance cover is essential.

There are several hospitals in Qatar, the most recent and modern being the Hamad General Hospital. The Poly Clinic has good dentists. Charges are high and health insurance is essential. As a precaution against the intense heat, visitors should maintain a high salt and fluid intake.

Saudi Arabia
Medical facilities are generally of a high standard, but treatment is expensive. International medical insurance cover is essential.

Syrian Arab Republic
Health insurance is recommended. There is no reciprocal health agreement with the UK. There are about 200 hospitals and 16,000 doctors. Medical care is provided free of charge to those who cannot afford to pay.

Turkey has a large health sector. A great number of Turkish doctors and dentists speak a foreign language, particularly at major hospitals. Private health insurance is recommended; ensure that it covers Asiatic as well as European Turkey.

Medical insurance, including cover for emergency repatriation, is highly recommended. Medical conditions are poor, high levels of disease have been reported. Travellers are advised to take a well-equipped first-aid kit with them containing basic medicines and any prescriptions that they may need.

United Arab Emirates
Medical facilities are of a very high quality, but are extremely expensive. Private health insurance is essential.

The major hospitals in Sana'a are: Al Thawra, Al Jumhuriyya and Al Kuwait. In Aden there is the Al Jumhuriyya, the Saudi Hospital and the Refinery Hospital. Most large cities have a general hospital. There is no reciprocal health agreement with the UK. Medical insurance is essential.

If you are an expatriate living in the Middle East or have plans to live or move to the Middle East, we can give you independent advice or a range of quotes for policies that provide you with international medical insurance cover.