Dubai to attract 500,000 annual medical tourists by 2020

14 May 2019   |   Healthcare

By offering a wide variety of internationally accredited healthcare facilities and more than 35,000 professionals from 110 nationalities, Dubai Health Authority (DHA) plans to attract 500,000 annual international medical tourists to the city, fueling opportunities for the emirate’s expanding healthcare industry. The emirate welcomed more than 337,011 health tourists in 2018, resulted in over Dh 1.163 billion worth of medical expenditures, according to the Dubai Health Authority.

Excellent hospitality services and booming aviation sector continues to captivate tourists from key source market, providing an ideal platform for global health travelers. A total of 33% of the international patients came from the Arab and GCC countries, as for another 30% were from Asia and 16% from Europe. The key specialties, including Dental, Orthopedic, Dermatology Ophthalmology, Health and wellness, continue to show growth trends.

Adding to that, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals are also among priority sub-sectors under the 2030 Dubai Industrial Strategy, aiming to elevate the emirate as a global platform for knowledge-based, sustainable and innovation-focused businesses. The UAE Ministry of Health stated that the country will have 34 indigenous pharmaceutical manufacturing factories by 2020. The market value of the country’s pharmaceutical industry is set to go beyond Dh 25 billion by 2025.

The UAE has steadily fasten its position as the destination of choice for medical tourists, supported by the wide range of state-of the-art technology, affordable treatments and highly specialised doctors. The country’s progress in becoming the world’s top destination for quality healthcare in the coming years is seen to be positive according to the experts across the country. From 2017-2022, The UAE is expected to have the highest growth rates in healthcare spending at 9.6%. The country has already marked the increase in medical tourists coming to the country for treatments from major surgeries to rehabilitation and cosmetic corrections.

Dubai Healthcare City Free Zone

With more than 20 million square feet area, Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) is attracting major foreign corporations and other institutions to be key partners in several fields. The free zone is expected to have around 34 pharmaceutical and medical equipment plants by 2020, as the value of private pharmaceutical industry in the UAE is expected to reach Dh 25 billion by 2025 from the current Dh. 5.9 billion.

DHCC is also encouraging investors to focus on personalised and nicherservices for UAE residents. For instance, oncology, with 24.2% of patients going overseas for cancer abroad due to its limited oncology services in the country. Therefore, DHCC has set up a specialised oncology facility with Mediclinic Middle East in increasing its capacity in cancer rare.

Another innovation being developed in the free zone is DHCC’s telehealth application which was rolled out at Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Centre and Mediclinic City Hospital. The application is built to facilitate live medical consultations as well as remote patient monitoring through video conferencing. It aims to provide patients with the flexibility and convenience to access licensed health services from home. DHCC Authority also stated that they are expanding the reach of high-qualified physicians and specialists from the free zone globally, irrespective of the patient’s location.