The Dubai Healthcare City – the easier way to get a medical license to practice in Dubai?

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We have already discussed in a previous post how the United Arab Emirates have different licensing authorities for medical and dental professional licensing, which are relevant in different parts of the country's territory.

Our first post of this series on professional licensing was focused on the Dubai Health Authority's licensing requirements, and highlighted how the process is often difficult, and the most challenging part of obtaining a medical specialist license is passing the specialty examination. In some cases even experienced consultants have not been able to pass the exam despite multiple attempts.This often discourages medical doctors from attempting licensing with the DHA. We can now offer assistance in licensing too, just CLICK HERE.

For this reason we have sometimes suggested to physicians who wish to practice medicine in Dubai to try the Dubai Healthcare City licensing process as a more achievable alternative.


The Dubai Healthcare City is a free zone in the heart of Dubai which was created in 2002 with the purpose of attracting clinical providers and healthcare companies to a single area, which was to become a hub for healthcare. Companies established within the perimeter of the Dubai Healthcare City enjoy a special regulation, do not require any local shareholder so they can be fully owned by foreign entities. This has attracted numerous high-profile hospital operators to the area.

The Dubai Healthcare City Regulatory Authority DHCA-R is in charge of providing licensing to companies and professionals operating in the Dubai Healthcare City.

For medical doctors and dentists there are different levels of licensing which can be obtained: general, specialist and consultant, based on the years of experience and training of the candidate, just like for the DHA licensing. However the substantial difference is that based on the country of original licensing of the candidate, taking the proficiency exam may not be required. Candidates wishing to obtain a license will fall within one of three tiers depending on the country of original licensing. Candidates from first tier countries (Western Europe, USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Africa, and a few more) are exempt from taking the DHCA licensing exam, while candidates coming from second and third tier countries must still take the exam.

The other usual requirements for licensing still apply: the candidate must submit to the Authority all professional degrees legally translated and attested by Emirati Authorities (Embassy, Consulate or Ministry of Foreign Affairs), provide a certificate of good standing from the original national licensing authority, reference letters from previous employers and a complete logbook attested by the candidate's medical directorate for surgical specialists.

On top of this a minimum level of English language proficiency must be demonstrated by taking the TOEFL or IELTS language tests and submitting the results.

This may seem like a lot of requirements, but the submission can be completely managed online in a very smooth way, and the DHCA staff has a reputation for being very helpful.

After submission of all attested documents the full licensing process (excluding the exam) usually takes 2-3 months and costs overall a little more than $1000.

Another very pleasant feature of the DHCA licensing for doctors and dentists is that after six months of continuous hiring by a DHCC institution, the candidate may apply for DHA licensing without having to sit the DHA specialty examination.