Healthcare in Saudi Arabia is of a high standard and expats will benefit from excellent medical facilities in both the private and public sectors. For the most part, patients don't need to worry about delays or waiting lists, but having adequate health insurance is a must to cover the costs involved.

Health insurance in Saudi Arabia

While expats working in the public sector have access to state-sponsored healthcare coverage, it is compulsory for all non-Saudi nationals to have private medical insurance. It's usually the sponsoring employer's responsibility to provide their expat employees with medical cover. Expats should try to negotiate this into their contract if it isn't included.

It's also important that expats ensure that any coverage provided to them by their workplace is comprehensive. If not, it is advisable to top up with an additional policy.

Hospitals in Saudi Arabia

There are public, private and military hospitals in Saudi Arabia. Most expats use private hospitals and clinics, but these come with a hefty price tag, so expats should make sure they're well covered by health insurance.

Many of the staff at private hospitals in Saudi Arabia are expats themselves and numerous hospitals are affiliated with well-known foreign facilities – so the language gap shouldn't be an issue.

Medicines and pharmacies in Saudi Arabia

Medicines are widely available at pharmacies in Saudi Arabia. Expats should however be aware of customs regulations before bringing medication into the country. For example, anti-depressants and sleeping pills are heavily controlled in the Kingdom.

Most pharmacies are open from 9.30am to 1pm and from 4.30pm to 10.30pm. Hospitals often have a 24-hour pharmacy.

Health hazards in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is mostly desert and expats usually struggle to adapt to extreme temperatures that can soar above 113°F (45°C). Heatstroke and exhaustion are common, especially during the hottest months from May to September. To avoid this, expats are advised to stay out of the sun during the hottest hours of the day and ensure they are well hydrated.

Emergency services in Saudi Arabia

Ambulances in Saudi Arabia are normally operated by police and government hospitals. For medical emergencies, expats can call 997.