Prescription and Non-Prescription Drugs

The majority of medicines are readily available in Dubai through hospitals and larger pharmacies. The list of medicines which require a prescription may be different than it is in many other countries. For example, antibiotics are readily available over the counter. Doctors are able to provide prescriptions for controlled medicines if deemed necessary. More general medicines, such as painkillers and cough medicines are available in larger supermarkets as well as in the many pharmacies throughout the city.

If you want to bring prescription drugs into the UAE from your home country, you must have a copy of the original prescription or a letter from your doctor. If you are on a visit visa, you can bring up to three months supply and if you are on a residence visa you can bring a 12-months supply. Check first, though, to make sure that the medicine is not on the list of restricted or controlled drugs. If it is, you will require permission from the Ministry of Health to bring these substances into the country. You can click here to find a list of these substances or you can contact the Drug Control Department of the Ministry of Health at or by telephone on 02 611 7240.

You should also be aware that the list of controlled medicines contains several over-the-counter medicines, such as codeine which is considered a narcotic. If you do bring a banned substance into the country without prior permission, it will probably be confiscated. However, in some cases, this may result in imprisonment and/or deportation.


Most local pharmacies are open from 10.00 am to 10.00 pm, Saturdays to Thursdays. The service they provide is variable. Some pharmacists are very knowledgeable and are able to provide guidance and advice. Others are not. This varies from pharmacy to pharmacy and also from individual to individual at each pharmacy. All pharmacies have English speaking staff.

The main pharmacy chains are:

BinSina Pharmacies
First established in the 1960s, this is one of the largest pharmacy chain in the UAE with over 28 pharmacies and more than 5 million customers a year. Most of the pharmacists are able to offer better advice than those in some other pharmacies.
Several of the pharmacies are open 24-hours a day. These can be found in Naser Square and Riqqa Road in Deira, Al Diyafa Stree in Satwa, Spinneys Ramada in Bur Dubai and Jumeirah Road in Jumeirah.

Boots Pharmacies
For many British expats, Boots is their pharmacy of choice. Found in nearly every town in the UK, Boots has a 150 year history and currently has more than 1,400 stores. A relative newcomer to Dubai, their main branches can be found in Wafi City, Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates and Jumeirah. As well as medicine, Boots also sells many health, beauty and baby-care products including many good quality own-brand items.

LIFE Healthcare Pharmacies
This chain of pharmacies has been serving people in Dubai for over 20 years. These large healthcare supermarkets stock everything from medicines and medical equipment to many other health and beauty related products. The pharmacists are knowledgeable and are able to offer comprehensive healthcare advice. There are branches in most areas of the city and a comprehensive list can be obtained from their website. The website also offers health and medical advice and they run a 24-hour helpline which you can reach by calling 04 344 1122.

Supercare Pharmacies
Supercare is a very well-established company which has over 15 pharmacies throughout the UAE. Many of these are found in the larger malls in Dubai, such as Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates. As well as prescription and non-prescription medicines, these pharmacies also offer a wide range of healthcare and wellness products.

24-hour pharmacies

There are several 24-hour pharmacies in the city. Most of these are located inside hospitals. There are also duty pharmacies which are open outside normal hours for prescription and non-prescription medicines. The pharmacies which are on duty on a particular day are listed on the Dubai police website or by phoning 04 2232323.