Community pharmacy in the United Arab Emirates: characteristics and workforce issues

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To determine the characteristics and workforce issues of community pharmacy practice in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).


Data collection was by anonymous cross-sectional survey. Questionnaires were distributed by hand to 700 community pharmacies to collect information about the participating pharmacists, pharmacy characteristics, the types of products and professional pharmacy services available to patients, and the barriers to offering professional services.

Key findings

A total of 344 pharmacists (49%) responded. Most were male (64%), had been in practice for less than 10 years (mean = 9.3, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 8.4–10.0) and were trained in India (35%) or Egypt (15%). The pharmacies were open for business 7 days/week (mean = 6.8, 95% CI = 6.7–8.8) with an average working day of 13 h (mean = 12.9, 95% CI = 12.7–13.2) and were mostly owned by independent non-pharmacists (70%). The pharmacies employed on average 2.6 full-time-equivalent (FTE) pharmacists (95% CI = 2.3–2.8) with 74% employing 1.8 FTE pharmacy assistants (95% CI = 1.7–2.0) and 47% employing trainee pharmacists (mean = 1.8 FTE, 95% CI = 1.6–2.0). Around three-quarters of the pharmacies dispensed fewer than 100 prescriptions (75%) and responded to fewer than 100 requests for over-the-counter medicines (69%) per day. Most pharmacists encountered limited immediate access to up-to-date resources.


This is the first study to explore the characteristics of community pharmacy practice in the UAE. The study provides baseline data which are critical to inform the development of strategies to improve the quality of community pharmacy services in the UAE.

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