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Remarkably, the UAE was one of only two countries with no reported cases of holiday illnesses recorded in a survey by the leading British consumer magazine, Holiday Which? This is a tribute to the success of government immunization programmes, the provision of adequate clean water and high standards of cleanliness in hotels and restaurants.

Vaccinations : No special immunizations are required, however it would be wise to check beforehand if you are traveling from a health-risk area. Tetanus inoculations are usually recommended if you are considering a long trip. Polio has been virtually eradicated in the UAE and hepatitis is very rare and can be avoided by taking precautions. Hepatitis A is transmitted by contaminated food and water, Hepatitis B, C, D through sexual contact, the use of unsterilized needles and blood transfusions.

Malaria : There are very few mosquitoes in the towns and cities and, since it is not considered to be a risk, malaria tablets are rarely prescribed for travel in the UAE. However, mosquitoes will find you if you are camping near the mountains or exploring wadis or date groves in the evening, so cover up and use a suitable insect repellent as it is always safer to avoid being bitten. If you are in any doubt consult your doctor or your nearest tropical medical centre before your trip.

Sunburn : The sun can be fierce throughout the year so heatstroke and heat exhaustion are always a risk. Adequate sunglasses, hats and high factor sun creams are essential, especially for children.

Health Insurance : Public hospitals, where the medical facilities are very good, will deal with emergencies free of charge, however it would be wise to take out medical insurance to cover all eventualities, especially if you need to attend a private hospital or clinic where treatment can be quite expensive. In all instances, medical procedures, including the use of sterilized needles and the provision of blood transfusions are very reliable.

Doctors : If you need a doctor,ask at your hotel, or ring your embassy for recommendations. If you need emergency treatment and are unable to contact a doctor, try one of the major hospitals listed below.

Pharmacies : Most medicines are readily available at pharmacies. Each emirate has at least one pharmacy open 24 hours a day. Check in local newspapers for information. In some emirates a 24-hour municipality emergency number (Abu Dhabi 02 777 929; Dubai 04 2232323) lists the locations of open chemists.

Dentists : Good dentists are readily available, including orthodontists.

Alternative Medicine : Aspirin or paracetamol (acetaminophen in the US) Useful for pain or fever. Antihistamine (such as Benadryl) Useful as a decongestant for colds and allergies, to ease the itch from insect bites or stings and to help prevent motion sickness. There are several antihistamines on the market, all with different pros and cons (eg a tendency to cause drowsiness), so it's worth discussing your requirements with a pharmacist or doctor. Antihistamines may cause sedation and interact with alcohol so care should be taken when using them. Antibiotics Useful if you're travelling well off the beaten track, but they must be prescribed and you should carry the prescription with you. Loperamide (eg Imodium) or Lomotil Useful for diarrhoea; prochlorperazine (eg Stemetil) or metaclopramide (eg Maxalon) for nausea and vomiting. Chinese medicine is readily available. There is also a homeopathic hospital.