The United Arab Emirates (UAE), and in particular its booming metropolises Abu Dhabi and Dubai, have been attracting an increasing number of doctors from all over the world with tax free salaries, good living conditions and the possibility to practice medicine in English. In the recent past the Middle Eastern country has invested a lot in extending its healthcare services to improve medical treatment for its citizens and medical tourists. All of this has further enhanced the need to recruit foreign doctors.
Foreign doctors need to apply for a professional licence to practice with the competent authority in the respective Emirate, such as the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) or the Health Regulation Department (HRD) at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).
At the Dubai Health Authority the licensing procedure starts with a review of the applicant’s credentials (such as diplomas and specialist certificates) submitted via an online system called “Sheryan”. The applicant’s medical school should be listed either in the International Medical Education Directory (IMED) or the Avicenna Directory for medicine. This credentialing step is followed by Primary Source Verification, i.e. a double check of the submitted credentials directly with the foreign issuing body.
The licensure requirements depend on the medic’s qualifications and experience – categories include Intern, Resident, General Practitioner, Specialist and Consultant. Medics with no relevant experience can obtain a Provisional License with limited scope. Furthermore, an assessment is conducted in English language, either as Computer Based Testing (CBT) or orally, depending on the medic’s category / specialty. However, doctors trained or licensed to practise in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, UK and USA are normally exempted from the assessment.
Finally, the applicant’s prospective employer needs to submit a job offer and evidence of malpractice insurance for the issuance of the licence. It should be noted that the licensing process is subject to various fees for the different procedural steps and the license is to be renewed annually in principle. Healthcare professionals within Dubai Healthcare City need a special license from the Center for Healthcare Planning and Quality (CPQ).
The licensure process of the Health Authority Abu Dhabi is similar, but not identical.
If you consider working as a doctor in the UAE, you are advised to become familiar in advance with the country’s political system and its rules governing healthcare delivery. You may also want to get in touch with colleagues who have been working in the country, in order to get first-hand information about personal experiences and the working conditions.