The Pharmacies of the United Arab Emirates

Supplement brands often overlook pharmacies as a viable retail channel for their products because shopping habits in the West are very different to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the rest of the Gulf.

When looking to purchase vitamins, minerals and supplements, UAE consumers will usually seek out the professional opinion of a Pharmacist or Doctor. Rather than pick them up at the supermarket with their regular groceries, they will specifically go to a pharmacy to purchase such items as well as on-th-go nutrition snack products.

The pharmacies of the UAE can offer a wealth of opportunity for Health & Wellness brands, this is even more so given the high influx of business travellers and tourists who come to this region, opening up a truly global opportunity.

The Top Three Pharmacy Chains in the UAE

Aster Pharmacy

Aster has been the leading, more traditional pharmacy chain in the UAE for some time. Owned by Aster DM Healthcare this business encompasses over 200 physical pharmacies. In addition to their retail pharmacies Aster DM has an established network of speciality hospitals in the UAE and have recently expanded into India too.

Life Pharmacy

Life pharmacy is another major pharmacy group in the UAE, on a current aggressive expansion plan opening 10 pharmacies in one day back in October 2021 and continued to surpass over 300 outlets by the end of 2021.

Whilst Aster may be viewed as the more traditional pharmacy due to its links with its own hospitals, Life Pharmacy has taken on the role of being a more OTC and sports nutrition focused retailer with dedicated spaces, also to healthy food items such as superfoods and protein powders and bars etc.

Life Pharmacy United Arab Emirates

Supercare Pharmacy

Supercare is one of the oldest pharmacy chains that is prevalent in the UAE. Part of the large GMG group and boasting more than 50 outlets at present, it is also on an expansion programme to open several more stores in the coming months. Seen as a more premium offering, Supercare usually takes store locations that reflect this and have products priced and positioned in this regard too. They like to bring in brands that give a clear point of difference from the competition.

Other pharmacy chains to consider in the UAE include:

  • Med 7

  • Al Ain pharmacy

  • Boots

Exporting your products to Pharmacies in the UAE

The larger pharmacy chains in the UAE, such as Aster, have their own distribution trading arms to enable them to import goods directly. This provides greater opportunities for brands they partner with as it enables them to distribute to other channels such as supermarkets as well as their own stores.

Here are the names of the relevant distribution companies which are run as separate entities but still as part of the large pharmacy groups.

Pharmacy chain Trading arm
Aster Alfa One
Life Pharmacy Nutripharm
Supercare Vitamed

Following a recent market visit to the UAE and having had some insightful meetings with our network of distributors, we have a number of opportunities for brands in the health & wellness sector. We’ve listed a few current opportunities below, please click the ‘view all opportunities’ button below for the full list.


A Middle Eastern retailer is looking to source a high protein baked goods for their outlets – these can be loaves, morning goods and any other bakery items

The product should be with a minimum of 7 days shelf life and ambient. The products would be required to be sent to a UK destination for exporting and no Arabic labelling or date coding is required as this will be done by the company taking title of the goods in the UK.

High Protein Shakes

A distributor is looking for high protein (30g minimum per serving) RTD shakes that are not currently present in the UAE but would like to enter this market.

This partner already has an established customer base for this kind of product and would work off net net pricing without any significant investment support needed by the brand.

Collagen Products

With high demand for this kind of product that works wonders for your skin, joints and more we have a number of partners in the market asking for convenient ready to consume collagen products.

If these products contain animal sources then they must be appropriately halal certified.

Who can help me to connect with pharmacies in the United Arab Emirates?

If you’re interested in making connections in the UAEthen the Bolst Global team can also help. We have links with several pharmacy retailers and a variety of distributors of health and wellness products.

Our team is also experienced when it comes to supporting both international and domestic pharmacy retailers and distributors in sourcing high-quality and innovative products and suppliers. You can find out more about our services here.

And if you’re not sure if the UAE is the right market for your brand, check out this recent comparison of the health and wellness sector across the Gulf region, where we compare the United Arab Emirates with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Health & Wellness in the Gulf

Pharmacies of Saudi Arabia

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