Medical tourism in the UAE – The Growing Market
Medical tourism in the UAE and especially in Dubai is growing significantly, and is expected to host 500,000 medical tourist by the year 2020. It is by far the world’s fastest growing medical tourism market, with more and more people coming to obtain medical treatment there. The Dubai medical market is seemingly most attractive to customers from Asia (37% of all visitors), other Arab countries (31%) and Europe (15%), while the Dubai Medical Tourism Council is working on the further promotion of their medical and health services in the regions of Africa and Europe.
The development is carefully planned and improvements in infrastructure are already significant.
The first important step was made in understanding customers’ needs in collaboration with Dubai Statistics Center, when private hospitals and polyclinics were mandated to provide patients’ data to the Center. This way, information about patients’ age, gender and nationality have become available for the statistic processing, which should enable better understanding of needs and expectations. From a touristic point of view it is very important to improve services that are not strictly connected with medical treatment, which include transportation, accommodation, translators and post-treatment services. That is especially important because medical tourists rarely travel alone and initiatives have already been made in order to improve this part of the customers experience.
When it comes to strictly medical issues, Dubai now has 55 hospitals with internationally recognized accreditation (JCI) and 18 pharmaceutical manufacturing factories. Plans for the future expect public and private sectors to develop with bigger number of hospitals. Also, since trained medical staff will be required the plan is to recruit highly qualified doctors to ensure the highest quality health service.
The market value of Dubai’s pharmaceutical industry is growing, as well as the income form the medical tourism that showed 9,5% increase last year with around 320 thousand tourists. So far the most popular treatments were in orthopaedics, dermatology and ophthalmology, but the possibilities of development of other sectors are endless. Dubai’s medical officials are determined to create medical infrastructure that can be compared to advanced counties. It should attract patients from across the globe because of its high quality and reliability. Therefore more and more efforts are made to ease the access to information on the internet. With developing communication and marketing sectors, end-to-end services for patients and their families, medical infrastructure and expertise, Dubai is about to become the leading medical tourism destination in the years to follow.