This UAE industry is in the pink of health.

The UAE’s healthcare industry is on an upward growth trajectory, bolstered by a growing number of industry-specific investments from several public and private entities.

With its vision to develop world-class healthcare infrastructure, expertise and services, the UAE government is extensively expanding and upgrading its healthcare systems to match international standards.

According to reports by Alpen Capital, the UAE accounts for 26 per cent of the total healthcare spend by GCC governments, and the per capita healthcare spending in the UAE was the second highest in the GCC.

Furthermore, the healthcare market in the UAE is projected at $19.5 billion in 2020, indicating an annual average growth of 12.7 per cent from 2015, and is marginally higher than the GCC growth average.

The outpatient and inpatient markets are projected to reach $12.1 billion and $7.5 billion, respectively, in 2020. The country is likely to see an increase in demand for the number of hospital beds at nearly three per cent every year to reach more than 13,800 beds by 2020.

Speaking to Khaleej Times at the Arab Health 2018 exhibition, several officials highlighted the growth in the country’s healthcare industry, the vision of its government and the role that new technology will play in improving patient care.

“We always ensure that we fall in line with the government’s vision,” said Jamal Ramadhan bin Marghoob, director, sales department at Dubai Airport Freezone (Dafza). “For example, just recently it was decided that there would be an increased focus on halal products in the healthcare industry, so we took the initiative to do just that. It was a similar case when it came to medical tourism.”

He added: “When we go overseas to speak with companies that are interested in setting up a business over here, we tell them that we will work very closely with them to ensure that their needs are met.

Different companies have different needs; some require storage solutions in warehouses, while others require immediate transport since their products are time sensitive.”

He also revealed that there has been an increase in investment in the healthcare industry, and that this is evident in the number of medical companies that are increasingly setting up their operations in Dafza. “Not only are the businesses coming in from international markets, but there is also an expansion in the local healthcare businesses.

We see an increase in the number of specialty hospitals, pharmacies, and clinics in the UAE. Many existing hospitals are opening new branches and the supply chain is growing. This is the biggest indicator that the industry is growing.”

Similarly, Dr Ramadan Ibrahim Alblooshi, CEO of Dubai Healthcare City Authority, noted that technology will play a key role in the development of the healthcare sector in the UAE. For example, he said that artificial intelligence (AI) is going to be crucial in determining what is needed by doctors in the future during treatment. However, he stressed that the focus will remain on ensuring that the patient is satisfied with the care that they are receiving.

“Investments will be scattered across several different sectors, and not just on one segment,” he said. “One area that is, and will continue to evolve is specialised treatment. We will see an increasing number of tertiary hospitals coming up in the UAE so that patients don’t have to go out of the country to get treatment. If you look at Dubai Healthcare City, we have a number of highly sophisticated and specialised hospitals. The key is to never stop innovating, especially in such a field.”

Dr Howard Podolski, CEO of Cambridge Medical and Rehabilitation Center (CMRC), also revealed that in the past five years, the UAE has witnessed significant developments in the field of medical rehabilitation, with rehabilitation centres offering more integrated therapeutic solutions.

“With so much research and many new rehabilitation techniques being developed, rehabilitation centres in the UAE must continue to innovate in order to offer the highest quality care to their patients,” he said.

“The health and well-being of children is also a major priority in the UAE, much in keeping with the government’s outstanding vision and leadership by placing great emphasis on outstanding pediatric medical care. With the future in mind, CMRC has recently opened its first facility in Dubai, which is specifically designed for the treatment of children with special needs; our determined ones.”

A new report by BNC Network, found that the total value of 707 healthcare projects in the GCC exceeded Dh223.5 billion in January 2018. Of these, 445 projects worth Dh190.47 billion are hospital projects, while the rest of the 262 projects worth Dh33 billion are medical clinics or research centres.

Out of the 707 projects in the GCC, 264 worth $24.7 billion are under construction, 227 projects worth $12.7 billion are in the design and pipeline, while there are 75 healthcare projects with a combined estimated value of $1.76 billion in tender.

Miryem Oukas Messidi, head of communications for the Middle East at Business France, explained that several French companies are looking to the Middle East, and especially to the UAE, for opportunities.

In 2017, France’s medical device market reported a turnover of ?28 billion, generated by over 1,300 companies – 92 per cent of which are SMEs. Growth in the sector is driven by exports, turnover from which is increasing by five per cent annually.

“Several of our companies have signed partnerships with companies in the UAE and the GCC,” she said. “The UAE is one of France’s main economic partners, and we know that the healthcare industry in UAE is set for a period of growth due to several initiatives such as Dubai Expo 2020 and UAE Vision 2021.

Dubai has plans to be one of the smartest and happiest countries in the world, and this goes hand in hand with further developments in the healthcare industry. We feel that we can contribute to these plans for the future.”