Health Tips in Saudi Arabia



Healthcare facilities in Saudi Arabia are at par with those available in Western Europe and America; however most people prefer to go abroad for specialized treatment. Saudi Arabia's public healthcare system provides free and low cost healthcare to its nationals but foreigners must pay. Hence, ensuring adequate health insurance is the best thing to do. Tourists must ensure they have adequate health insurance but they have access to state emergency services irrespective of whether they are insured. 

The country's small population has a variety of public and private health care facilities to choose from. The hospitals and clinics are manned by local doctors and staff and a number of foreign doctors and health care professionals who have been trained in their home countries. Those seeking specialized treatments in Saudi Arabia still prefer to go abroad.  


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Scan the yellow pages and telephone directories to get a list of hospitals and clinics (general practitioner's surgery) to begin with and then show it to your friends and colleagues to get a recommendation. Public and private hospitals together with military establishments boast of medical facilities ranging from luxurious to acceptable. Costs for treatment and accommodation vary depending on whether the hospital facilities are modest or luxurious. All major hospitals and clinics are open 24 hours a day and Arabic and English are both widely spoken.    


Saudi Arabia is served by excellent doctors from India, Pakistan, Egypt, Europe and USA. The qualifications of these doctors are scrutinized by the Ministry of Health or by the Ministry of the Interior if attached to a military establishment, before they are permitted to practice in the country. A recommendation by friends and colleagues is still the best way to opt for a doctor. A routine diagnostic visit to a doctor costs around 60$ with extra charges for any additional tests while a visit to a specialist could run in to hundreds of dollars. House calls and specialist visits are more expensive. 

If you are using public health care services then an appearance in person rather than a telephonic appointment is recommended. Surgery hours are 9am and 1pm, and from 5 to 8.30pm and same day appointments can be scheduled. Doctors in the private sector usually give appointments within 24-72 hours of making the request.

Most dentists in Saudi Arabia come from Russia, Scandinavia and Britain and have their own work rooms and technicians which ensure speedy treatment. Costs for treatment do not vary much due to the element of competition.  


Saudi Arabia has a number of pharmacies which are well stocked with medical supplies and are open 9.30am to 1pm and from 4.30 to 8.30pm or later, Saturdays to Thursdays. They also stock perfumes and cosmetics. Medicines for cough, cold, painkillers and eye drops are available at supermarkets across the country. Hospitals have pharmacies which operate round the clock.   

Do not forget to carry your prescription and always remember the content and formula as many a time just the brand name would make it difficult to procure. This is because brand names vary according to manufacturers in different countries.

The Health Ministry has banned the sale of tranquilizers, anti-depressants and sleeping pills except in case of very serious mental illnesses.  

Emergency Numbers

Police: 999

Ambulance: 997


King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre (Tel. 966-1-464 7272)

King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital (Tel. 966-1-482 1234)

Maternity and Children's Hospital (Tel. 966-2-665 2600)

King Fahad Hospital, Jeddah (Tel. 966-2-665 6436)

The King Fahad National Guard Hospital (Tel. 966-1-252 0088)

King Khaled University Hospital (Tel. 966-1-467 0011)

Riyadh Royal Armed Forces Hospital (Tel. 966-1-477 7714)

Security Forces Hospital (Tel. 966-1-477 4480) in Riyadh. 

In Case of an Emergency

Emergency services in the country do not operate at the same level of efficiency that is commonly found in Western countries. In case of an emergency the best way to reach a hospital or medical facility is your own transportation. Calling a taxi is the next best thing to do. Always keep a list of emergency numbers you can call and a map of the shortest route to a hospital or medical facility with you.  

Health Risks

Alcoholism and depression caused by loneliness are common problems while respiratory problems among expatriates could be caused by excessive sand and dust due to the weather conditions and increase in construction activities. Dehydration and sun strokes due to long hours of physical exertion in the outdoors in summer can both prove to be fatal conditions if not treated properly.