5 Tips on Staying Healthy in the UAE

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  | Published: 25 December 2020 | Last Updated On: 20 January 2021

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Dubai is known as the land of luxury. Its lavish lifestyle and shopping opportunities make it a winner on everyone’s list of places to go. The advanced and luxe lifestyle that is emblematic of UAE makes it a dream destination. 

However, like any other place in the world, the Emirates has its own set of challenges. As a result, anyone looking to travel to or relocate to UAE needs to be aware of its unique health risks and ways to stay healthy in its hot and dry weather. 

Having to live and work in a place that is not your homeland is stressful enough, so it is always better to be aware of the plausible health issues that can add to that stress. UAE’s extremely hot weather, long hours of work, lack of exercise, unhealthy eating habits, smoking culture among others add to the list of potential health hazards that can wreak havoc on your fitness, making you fall prey to a host of diseases. Obesity and diabetes are among the biggest demons borne out of this problematic lifestyle. 

Despite the government of UAE investing heavily in the healthcare sector in recent times, the results will take long before they are actually visible. Till then, buying health insurance, and having caution on your behalf is the best solution! 

How Does Lifestyle Affect Your Health in the UAE? 

1. Lack of Exercise- The scorching heat and long working hours prevent the residents of UAE from stepping outdoors, thus restricting movement and contributing to the lack of exercise. It is therefore extremely important to find the motivation to indulge in some form of activity or enrolling in a gym to stay fit.

2. Unhealthy Eating Habits- Globalisation has allowed mega fast-food chains to set up shop in every nook and corner of the Emirates, thus establishing a takeaway culture. Added to that the large portion sizes combined with a sedentary lifestyle have drastic effects on one’s health. The love for food among the UAE nationals as well as the expats contributes to the high number of heart diseases, obesity, back problems, and type 2 diabetes. Eating healthy should be therefore a top priority just like the plan to buy best health insurance in UAE.

3. Extreme Weather- The high temperatures force people to commute via cars and taxis instead of walking, even for shorter distances. This is not only harmful to the environment but also for your health. Try walking as much as possible seeking opportunities to work on your health.

4. Smoking- UAE is famous for its atmosphere of abundance and luxury and as a result of that smoking is extremely popular in the UAE. Shisha is a marker of this opulence and grandeur and is very well-liked but its effects on the lungs can be horrendous. Avoiding such unhealthy habits will help you in keeping fit in the long run.

5. Sun beating down- The direct sun during the summer months can be agonizing. Hence the people try to avoid coming in contact with direct sunlight for the fear of developing skin cancer. But this often has the opposite effect of causing Vitamin D deficiency. Most people in the country are Vitamin D deficient which leads to brittle bones and other problems. The best solution is to go for a walk or do exercises early in the morning. Taking supplements regularly is another alternative that will keep your bones healthy and strong. Keep yourself and your family safe by planning to buy the best health insurance plans. 

How does the local weather affect your health in the UAE?

Surrounded by the Persian Gulf and huge deserts, the United Arab Emirates has extreme weather situations that can have adverse effects on its citizens. The summer months can see a rise in temperatures up to 50 degrees Celsius making heatstroke, dehydration, and sunburn a common health risk for both the young and the elderly. Staying indoors in air-conditioned buildings is not only advisable but also necessary in these times. Buy medical insurance to cover your hospital expenses in case of any emergency. 

The Emirates also has extreme humidity that can lead to heavy rainfall. The hot and humid “Easter” breeze makes matters worse. Making sure that your head is covered and cool using scarves and umbrellas, protecting it from the direct light of the sun at all times is vital. Wear loose clothes to allow your body to perspire. Apply abundant sunscreen when stepping out to protect your skins from the sun’s harmful rays. 

The sudden change in temperature as the weather turns cold can lead to flu, cold, and cough. The nights can be freezing and thus it’s important to take care of your health. Exercise and eat immune boosters during these times to help your body fight off the pathogens. Sleep well and stay hydrated at all times. 

The sandstorms are another weather phenomenon that can be a health risk. Also, the dust from construction sites adds to this problem, causing difficulty for those who have pulmonary issues. The dust from the desert and air pollutants are micro-particles that cause breathing issues and other respiratory diseases among UAE nationals. Avoid being out for longer durations, especially if you have allergies or asthma. Wear a mask if you have to go out. Safeguard yourself in advance by choosing to buy a health insurance policy that protect you in unfortunate events. 

How to stay protected from bugs and insects in the UAE?

Violent fire ants as well as the Samsun ants are quite prevalent in these desert regions. Their attack can be extremely painful and can even cause an anaphylactic shock in extreme cases.

The redback spider is another poisonous species that can easily be encountered in the UAE. Try not to panic if you come across one of these but always be on the lookout for them to keep yourself safe. The same applies to scorpions and snakes. Even they stay away from human civilization but it good to be aware. Don’t trigger them and they will most likely leave you alone.

In case of a bug bite, immediately contact a doctor or a medical centre for expert advice and prescription. Always keep the details of the bug in mind even if you don’t know the exact species as it will come in handy in seeking medical attention. A good insurance plan can help to cover your medical bills in case of such emergencies. 

How life-threatening can MERS be?

MERS is the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. It is a respiratory disease that can even be life-threatening to those who have pre-existing pulmonary issues. The symptoms of MERS include Shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, fever, etc. 

Luckily, the spread of MERS is not known to be very high with only cases occurring within hospitals or amongst vulnerable people. So, if your immunity is compromised or you have medical conditions that put you in the vulnerable category, you need to be careful of MERS in the UAE. Buy best health insurance to cover your medical expenses in the unfortunate scenario of contracting MERS. 

Another important thing to note is that camels are known to be carriers of MERS. So, if you are around camels during a desert safari or for a ride, make sure to wash your hands properly after coming in contact with them. Stay away from camels that are sick and even avoid eating raw or undercooked camel meat as well as other camel products like dairy. 

What vaccines do you need in the UAE?

Before moving to the United Arab Emirates, make sure that you have taken all your regular vaccines. Mentioned below are some of the vaccines that the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC advises for those individuals who are supposed to work outdoors or around children and animals:

  • Tetanus
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Rabies
  • Typhoid
  • Polio
  • Diphtheria- Tetanus- Pertussis (DTaP)
  • Chickenpox (Varicella)
  • Measles- Mumps- Rubella (MMR)

Please ensure that all of your regular vaccinations are up-to-date before you relocate to the UAE, especially for Typhoid and Hepatitis A. Both of these are extremely important as they easily spread through contaminated water and food. It is best to even get a Hepatitis B vaccine as well as a rabies vaccine if you are likely to have contact with animals. Plan to buy medical insurance plan too if you are visiting the UAE to cover the cost of hospitalization in case something unfortunate happens. 

Additional Tips on Staying Healthy in the UAE:

  • Remember the emergency numbers-

998

To call an ambulance

999

To call the police 

997

To call the Fire department

996

To call Abu Dhabi’s coast guard

  • Protect yourself from bug bites by using insect repellents or even nets
  • Wash your hands regularly and properly
  • Avoid eating uncooked or raw meat
  • Wash all the fruits and vegetables properly before eating
  • Do not drink the water directly from the tap
  • Avoid hours of peak sunlight. Exercise during the sunrise or sunset
  • Eat fish to supplement your body’s Vitamin D requirements
  • Maintain your fluid intake to stay hydrated at all times
  • Use the parks across the city or even the sponge-like tracks around Dubai’s public beaches to go for a run
  • Buy a health insurance plan before relocating to the UAE

In a Nutshell

With the naturally sedentary lifestyle overtaking people’s lives in the UAE, expats are more likely to fall prey to diseases. However, the UAE government is actively working to curb the number of obesity and diabetes cases around the country through several of its initiatives that encourage people to stay fit! Awareness is the key to push UAE to the top of the list of the world’s healthiest nations.