Having a Baby in Dubai – Part 1 of 3

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Wee Scotch at 1 month old
Wee Scotch at 1 month old

I often get asked about my experience of having a baby in Dubai:  What was it like? Is the medical care any good? Does my child have UAE citizenship?

I’ll tackle the last question first.  No, Wee Scotch does not get automatic UAE citizenship.  It’s near impossible to do so if a child is born from expat parents. Only 10% (if that much) of UAE population is Emirati and they like to keep it that way.  So an expat child who is born in Dubai is stateless at birth basically.  Since I am American and Scotch is British, Wee Scotch now has dual-citizenship and holds passports and birth certificates from both the US and the UK.  I’ll go into our experience with that process in Part 2 or Part 3 or however long it will take me to tell the story.

Okay, so in short, Dubai being a third world country, it was quite a hardship to have a baby here.

You know I’m kidding right?  (I hope I didn’t just scare anyone out there reading this.)

I don’t know how Dubai ranks, exactly, in medical care but I would say that it has excellent medical facilities and healthcare providers.  You can choose between private healthcare (very expensive as in any other country unless you are rich or have insurance) or government healthcare (practically free or very low cost).

Because Scotch’s insurance covered it, I choose the very fancy-schmancy private facilities of “American Hospital” where all the doctors and nurses are North American board certified or equivalent – because being American, that’s what I felt comfortable with, this being my first pregnancy.

What’s with the fancy-schmancy part?  Well, it’s rumored that you get champagne served to you after your delivery. Yeah, that totally didn’t happen to me so I think next time I need to find another hospital. (Kidding, only kidding.) Maybe that new “City Hospital” that just opened up in Healthcare City will serve me champagne.

Side Note:  Private hospitals are so expensive (hm…or maybe my insurance provider is just stingy) that I actually will be relegated to the government hospital route if I have a 2nd baby in Dubai because I used up my lifetime allotment of insurance funds for maternity costs.  Oh well.   I think it costs about 25,000 dhs ($6,800) for a natural birth (including all doctor visits, ultrasounds, etc) for private care versus 8,000 dhs ($2,200) for public care.  I have no idea how that compares with giving birth in the US or UK.

In short, I felt medically very well-cared for in Dubai, I really liked my OB/GYN, wait-times at the clinic/hospital weren’t too bad (15-20 minutes at most), facilities were clean and modern, receptionists were semi-friendly, and everything was direct-billed to my insurance company (except for the 6,000 dhs that I went over and above my annual maternity limit and had to pay by credit card – good thing I didn’t have a C-section cuz I think that’s an additional 10k dhs or $3000 on top of everything!).

I do want to say that I had an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery.  In other words, I never had to test the ability of my doctor nor the hospital of dealing with any issues and so I often wonder if I would have such positive things to say about my experience had I had any real complications.

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  1. Thank God you have insurance. If I'd have my next pregnancy, I'll go for Al Wasl Hospital. The fees for antenatal and delivery has gone up but still cheaper than other hospitals and since it's Dubai's pediatric & maternity hospital, if anything goes wrong in private hospitals, the babies would still be taken to Al Wasl.

    I was treated there for my ectopic pregnancy last June and I only have nice things to say to them. Modern, clean and very professional staff.

    Congratulations on having a baby! How's motherhood taking you so far? 🙂
    .-= Grace @ Sandier Pastures´s last blog ..Expat women discussions Part II =-.

  2. Just to highlight the Al Wasl is now around 5000 DHS for anti-natel and 7000 DHS for a normal birth with no pain meds. Also they are the best to deal with prem births – they will NOT accept anyone who has not registered with them so if you are going private and your insurance company is paying it may be prudent to register with them as well (a back up plan so to speak!)

  3. Hi! Am going through my first pregnancy in Dubai and am also American with British husband. How did you go about registering the birth at both embassies and arranging for birth certificates and passports? Was it difficult at all (as so many things can be in Dubai)?

    We are also going to American hospital as it has been recommended by many friends. It's great to hear that you had an easy, uncomplicated labour and delivery.

  4. Hi James, I completely agree that Al Wasl is a very good hospital. Their maternity costs/packages have recently gone up but still much cheaper than the private route.

    I would have no qualms in delivering there for my next baby, But expat jitters are magnified a million times when it comes to things like, oh, having a first baby. Anyway, I really liked my doctor and never felt pressured by her into having a C-Section like I've heard with some other doctors.

  5. Actually, you (theoretically) spent way too much.

    The truth is, and many expats never learn this, is that you could have gone to Al Wasl hospital, and paid about 2500 AED for the whole delivery package. Luckily you had insurance, so it didn't cost you a dime, but I wouldn't recommend the American Hospital to those without such all-inclusive coverage. I had originally taken my wife there for her second child, but after being massively overcharged for the upteenth unnecessary test during her first trimester (750 for a blood sample, 1,000 for a sonogram), we had four times as many tests and visits as we had had in Canada for our first child, our wallet's painful keening knocked some sense into our heads.

    Al Wasl is actually very nice, very modern, and is the only accredited pediatric emergency care facility in Dubai. So if anything odd had happened during your delivery, your baby would have been airlifted to Al Wasl anyways. Also, the American Hospital, and a few other private hospitals like Welcare, etc, are known to opt for C-Sections on the drop of the hat, which triples the delivery cost.

    We found it just wasn't worth it.

    If you can get over your expat jitters, and go to a hospital where there are a sea of kandoras and abayas, you'll find yourself well served.
    .-= James O'Hearn´s last blog ..Undercover Boss =-.