Healthcare in the Gulf: No pain, no gain


  • Share via facebook
  • Tweet this
  • Bookmark and Share
Spending on healthcare per capita across the Gulf Cooperation Council is only about $1,200 compared to up to $5,000 in developed countries, according to Deloitte

Spending on healthcare per capita across the Gulf Cooperation Council is only about $1,200 compared to up to $5,000 in developed countries, according to Deloitte

Essa Al Maidoor doesn’t hold back when Arabian Business asks how big he wants the Dubai healthcare sector to become: “As big as the biggest,” he replies before chuckling in acknowledgement of his confidence. “We always like to work that way in Dubai. It is coming up, I am 100 percent sure.”

There is little reason to doubt the director-general of Dubai Health Authority, given investment in the healthcare sector across the United Arab Emirates has tripled in the past five years and is expected to soar from $3.2bn in 2012 to $11.9bn in 2015, contributing to more than 6 percent of non-oil gross domestic product.

The country has rapidly expanded since the 1970s oil boom, achieving all manner of world records, but the healthcare sector has significantly lagged behind. Spending on healthcare per capita across the Gulf Cooperation Council is only about $1,200 compared to up to $5,000 in developed countries, according to Deloitte.

The poor spending has seen a significant number of GCC nationals travel overseas for specialist medical attention they cannot get at home.

Deloitte estimates the Kuwaiti government spent $1.7bn on treatment costs for patients abroad in 2011, while the UAE paid $2.5bn for its nationals seeking medical care overseas.

“There’s quite a lot of outflow of patients in the GCC needing to seek medical treatment abroad in places like the US and Germany,” Deloitte’s director of healthcare consulting, Parham Gohari, says. “The quality of care... [is] why patients prefer to go abroad, especially for major treatments and major surgeries.”

But the story is gradually changing as governments rattled by the Arab Spring look to improve services and foreign investors identify lucrative gaps in the market.

While two thirds of the UAE’s healthcare spending in 2012 was by the government — significantly more than the global average — international private investors are quickly increasing their stake in what may be the last recession-proof industry.

“There are so many coming here; believe me, a lot and on so many levels,” Al Maidoor says of international investors in the Dubai healthcare sector.

“They not only [want] to establish hospitals [but also] the support services for hospitals. There is medical and non-medical support, logistics, which is required for the hospitals.”

Article continued on next page

Related:
Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

  • No comments yet, be the first!

Enter the words above: Enter the numbers you hear:

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Saudi healthcare booms as state bids to close welfare gap

Saudi healthcare booms as state bids to close welfare gap

Stock market listings are being planned by two of Saudi Arabia...

Revealed: How the Gulf is losing billions to medical insurance fraud

Revealed: How the Gulf is losing billions to medical insurance fraud

The growing issue of medical insurance fraud and abuse — ranging...

The world's most influential Arabs: Power defined

The world's most influential Arabs: Power defined

Putting together a list of the world’s most powerful Arabs is...

Most Discussed
  • 54
    Three UAE women attacked with hammer at London hotel

    I really feel that Arabian Business.Com should now close this comments page. This should be all about sympathy for the families not what it is/has turned... more

    Wednesday, 16 April 2014 1:06 PM - Adrienne
  • 51
    Why Dubai isn't a plastic city

    What is definitely not a plastic city. The Arabs have a culture dating back to several centuries. 50 years back Dubai was just a fishing village. Today... more

    Tuesday, 8 April 2014 3:49 PM - P. MADHUSUDAN
  • 48
    DMCC boss Ahmed Bin Sulayem entertains Robert Mugabe in Dubai

    @fga ''However today, simply because he decided to dispossess a few white farmers of their land and redistribute to the poorer indigenous blacks'' more

    Sunday, 13 April 2014 3:02 PM - Matt Williams