Pregnancy in the UAE

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Updated 2021-11-15 08:47

If you decide to start a family in the UAE, you will probably be pleased to know that the country has a well-developed healthcare network and a modern infrastructure for maternity services.

However, as the UAE is governed by Islamic laws, there are a number of restrictions that you should be aware of. The most important condition for getting access to maternity services in the UAE is a marriage license: you must be legally married to give birth in the UAE.

Maternity facilities in the UAE

To give birth in the UAE, you will need to refer to a hospital or clinic -- there are no options for home births in the UAE.

All doctors in the UAE are attached to a medical centre -- and most medical centres and smaller hospitals have a maternity wing. To gain access to maternity care, you will need to make an appointment in a hospital.

In larger emirates like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, you will also have access to establishments like Medcare Women and Children Hospital, specializing specifically in maternity care and paediatrics.

To find a doctor, you can check the website of the hospital you have access to. You will then need to book an appointment and come in for your first check-up. You will need these documents:

  • Your current health insurance card
  • Original marriage certificate
  • Your and your spouse's ID
  • Copies of your residence visas

Important:

Abortions are illegal in the UAE. They are only administered in emergencies (when the mother's life is in danger) or in the case of a fatal genetic disease.

Costs of maternity care in the UAE

Giving birth in the UAE is expensive. If you decide to give birth in a public hospital, your bill for full care may go upwards of AED 30,000. Naturally, public hospitals are significantly less pricey -- but not exactly cheap either. Giving birth in a public hospital will cost you upwards of AED 7,000.

The high medical care costs make having proper health insurance in the UAE an absolute must. In fact, it is now legally required that every employee in the country is provided with company insurance. If the pregnant woman is not employed by a company in the UAE herself, her partner must add her as a dependent to his insurance plans. The insurance plan must have maternity benefits.

When planning your pregnancy, make sure that your maternity insurance benefits are activated when you need them: some insurance companies ask you to be insured for six months prior to the date when your maternity benefits kick in.

Arranging papers for your child in the UAE

Once a child is born, their birth must be registered within 30 days. To receive a birth certificate, you will need the present the following documents:

  • Your marriage certificate (attested and translated into Arabic)
  • Copy of the mother's and father's passports and residence visas
  • The hospital issued birth notification

Next, you will need to arrange a passport, residence visa and Emirates ID for your baby -- you will have 120 days (since the day of birth) to do this. You can do this yourself or pay an agency to assist you with all the procedures.

Important:

A foreign baby born in the UAE will not receive local citizenship. Instead, the baby will be granted the nationality of their parents. If the parents are of different nationalities, the baby will be given the father's nationality.

Childcare in the UAE

Childcare facilities in the UAE are abundant -- however, most establishments are geared towards children who are over one a half years old. For younger children, you can hire a nanny who gets paid by the hour. Note that it's quite expensive to hire a licensed nanny in the UAE. In fact, it may be significantly cheaper to participate in an AuPair program or hire a nanny from your home country or India and the Philippines. If you hire a nanny from abroad, you will need to pay them minimum wages as stated by the UAE government.

Children in the UAE are generally vaccinated against tuberculosis (TB), Hepatitis B (HBV), polio (IPV/OPV), diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus (Dtap), Haemophilus influenza (Hib) and pneumococcal conjugate (PCV). Make sure to check if these vaccinations are covered by your health insurance. If you are a resident in the UAE, your child can get free vaccinations at the clinic assigned to your place of residence. In this case, you will need to provide a number of documents including your Emirates ID and a copy of a recent utility bill.

Generally, employees in the UAE are entitled to 45 days of maternity leave. If the woman has been employed by the company for over a year prior to giving birth, she receives full pay during her maternity leave. If she has worked for less than a year, she is entitled to reduced pay.

Note that government employees are entitled to three months of maternity leave with full pay.

Paternity leave is not really a thing in the UAE. However, government employees do get offered three days of paternity leave.

Good to know:

In 2014, the UAE government passed a law making breastfeeding mandatory for the first 18 months of the baby's life. There is currently a blanket ban on the promotion and advertising of formula and other alternative baby nutrition products in the country. In short, breastfeeding is strongly encouraged by the UAE government.

Useful links:

Women & Children Hospital

Ministry of Health Prevention

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (attestation)

Breastfeeding in the UAE

In 2014, the government passed a law that made breastfeeding compulsory for the first 18 months; in 2018, they banned all formula milk promotions, as a further endorsement to the UAE's official breastfeeding policy. Basically, breastfeeding is being encouraged hugely, even in public, and there is a lot of noise to propagate it with media campaigns and government initiatives. Having said that, you need to be discreet while feeding your child in public by covering yourself with protective gear such as a scarf or a stole.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.