Medicine and healthcare in Saudi Arabia: medical care for foreigners

Saudi Arabia


Medicine and healthcare in Saudi Arabia: medical care for foreigners

The healthcare system in Saudi Arabia is built on the Western model and uses the latest technology to diagnose and treat diseases. The Kingdom has the largest medical centre in the Middle East, the King Fahd Hospital. Patients from different countries seek out local specialists. So what makes the country's medical field so special? We will tell you how and who comes to be treated in Saudi Arabia.

Health care field

There are both public and private medical facilities in Saudi Arabia. Their level of service is the same. Private clinics offer a wider range of treatments, but at a higher price. Public hospitals provide services and most medicines to Saudi Arabian citizens completely free of charge. For an initial consultation, contact your family doctor.

The government allocates almost a tenth of the budget to health care, which contributes to the high level of medical development. Polyclinics with modern medical equipment are present in every administrative district, even in the most remote areas. Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health is responsible for providing medical and preventive services to the population.

The country has a national vaccination programme for children. In particular, it provides for vaccination against certain diseases:

whooping cough;



hepatitis A and B;




epidemic parotitis (mumps).

Many medicines in Saudi pharmacies are available without a prescription. But some medicines that can be freely purchased in other countries are prohibited or strictly controlled here. For example, antidepressants and sleeping aids cannot be sold within the Kingdom. Therefore, before travelling, it is better to find out in advance about the restrictions on the medicines you have.

Medical assistance for foreigners

Foreign nationals living in Saudi Arabia are only entitled to private medical services. It is also the foreigner's responsibility to have employer-provided health insurance. Typically, insurance policies cover the cost of basic medical services. For example, dental care may not be available. Therefore, some foreign workers additionally purchase private health insurance. The website of the Cooperative Health Insurance Council of Saudi Arabia will provide you with more in-depth information.

Categories of medical workers

There are three categories of medical workers in the country:

General Practitioner/General Dentist –  a medical practitioner with a university medical degree, training and at least two years experience in the major.

Specialist – a doctor with higher medical education, an internship or a Master's degree (or with a PhD degree) and at least 3 years of experience in the speciality.

Consultant – is a doctor of the highest category.

Popular fields of medicine

The most frequently requested specialists in the country are:





And Saudi Arabia also has a highly developed field of cosmetology, as it is the most popular medical speciality among women. Specialists in gynaecology are also in high demand in the Kingdom, as typically Saudi women give birth to a lot of children. Therefore, obstetrics departments are found in most local hospitals.