Princess Haya to steer revamp of Dubai Healthcare City

Overhaul aims to attract new healthcare brands, capture slice of medical tourism market

HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein will steer the planned overhaul for DHCC

HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein will steer the planned overhaul for DHCC

HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein is set to lead an overhaul of Dubai Healthcare City in a bid to attract fresh healthcare brands to the free zone and capture a slice of the lucrative medical tourism market.

Princess Haya, the wife of Dubai’s ruler, will oversee a restructuring aimed at shifting DHCC’s focus away from real estate and back to healthcare, her office said in an emailed statement.

The revamp will ensure “real estate would be a component that complements [DHCC’s] sustainability, but is never at the heart of its operation,” the statement said.

All existing projects in the development are under evaluation, and DHCC is in talks with a number of medical institutions to bring the project in line with its new focus, the statement said.

Princess Haya will report directly to HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

DHCC was launched in 2002, in a bid to stem the tide of local patients seeking medical care abroad. The city, which houses more than 90 clinical outlets, is a unit of Dubai Holding, a state-owned developer that this year held talks with lenders to restructure $10bn of debt.

The free zone, which features residential buildings and hotels, was badly hit by Dubai’s real estate crash which saw house prices tumble more than 60 percent from their mid-2008 peak.

 More than half of developments in the city were scrapped or put on hold in the wake of the financial crisis, leaving construction firms scrabbling for cash as project finance dried up.

DHCC said last year its 400-bed University Hospital, the jewel in the crown of the $5.3bn healthcare city, now had no firm opening firm after construction slowed in the downturn.

The free zone has also struggled to retain clinics as the financial crisis squeezed smaller healthcare operators. US-based Mayo Clinic, one of DHCC’s most prestigious brands, last year shuttered its clinical practice.

In 2009, the city closed its outpatient care centre, Dubai Medical Suites (DMS), less than six months after its launch. The centre was intended to lure in foreign hospitals, which would offer visiting specialists and share the costs of funding the 20-clinic centre.

Medical services provider Gulf Healthcare International, which has headquarters in DHCC, said the city will need to attract high-profile brands if it is to capture part of the medical tourism market.

“It needs to have a few more marquee brands that are probably less under a brand licence but more under a proper JV so can you have local families partnering on a 50:50 basis with some of the world’s top healthcare operators,” said Mark Adams, CEO of GHI.

“The prize for DHCC would be to try and capture some of the $15bn of health tourism that leaves the region and it hasn’t captured that.”

DHCC had fallen short of its goal to become a healthcare hub, but the addition of a top oncology centre could help the city establish its brand, he said.

“I think it is fair to say the concept was brilliant but the execution less so,” said Adams.

“If you really had one of the best cancer organisations coming into Dubai Healthcare City… it would mean that if you lived in Saudi Arabia and you needed cancer care you wouldn’t be getting on a plane to the west you’d be coming to Dubai, which would be good for everybody.”

GHI said this month it plans to invest AED100m ($27m) in opening six branded clinics and acquiring 11 clinics aimed at lower-income patients.

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Posted by: Rajeev

The idea is very good however there are greater chances of it backfiring and may end up with major equipment investments staying dormant for healthcare (including the real estate).
In order to have a healthcare that is attractive to others must be affordable and exact. Nobody enjoys staying in a hospital or visit even for pleasure.

Dubai will need to develop a younger breed of well trained doctors of it's own who have a keen sense of diagnosing diseases and ailments not in the GCC but for sicknesses and diseases in distant lands.

I have known a person who was given the wrong treatment in Dubai and whose health got worse until he rushed to India and came back cured and healthy. Only because his diagnosis was done correctly and hence the proper treatment.

It takes a lot of patience and studying in preparing to be a doctor but it takes even longer to develop the sense of good diagnosis.

I support the thought of the having good healthcare in Dubai but hope to see it bloom in 2030.

Posted by: MSHANTI

I visited the DHCC in the early stages and almost invested in it to establish my company..decided to pull out due to extreme lack of credibility of those who managed the city. Again tried to contribute with a great vision and to register my 4 innovations (IPs) under the DHCC. Requested to meet the execs of DHCC at that time. We wanted to get in with direct investment and a new trend of self-sustained healthcare centres based on an innovative concept proven to be a match to Dubai vision. Unfortunately we could not even get an answer for our request. I am very confident that the Princess will have a grip on things and will make the dream come true. Will knock the door again once her Highness is in charge.

Posted by: CP

I recently visited Vitallife in Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok where they had a compound pharmacy and made me vitamins based on my blood panels and prescribed to me bioidentical hormones which are plant based and are much safer than HRT which is currently being prescribed to women in the UAE and proven to cause cancer in women. I saw many Emiritis there. I would like a section of DHCC to be wellness centers that give patients a more natural option to traditional medicine for cancer treatments, menopause and other ailments. I would love if Vitallife was in DHCC, it would save me a trip to Thailand and the women of Dubai would benefit immensely to this type of health option.

Posted by: Mary

Fabulous! I was so saddened every time I would drive to The City hospital that DHCC was going to good use. It is a goldmine if done properly. Neighboring GCC citizens are already going to Dubai to seek healthcare that is better than their countries. You can find a qualified doctor in Dubai and the hospital facilities are better than neighboring GCC countries. There still are problems, but at least there are some good doctors that have relocated to Dubai and are Western trained. For example, there are no Western trained doctors in Kuwait where the healthcare is very poor. In my interviews with doctors in Dubai, many patients are travelling to Dubai for convenience to do surgeries. Many GCC citizens are desperate for good healthcare and they want convenience. I can see DHCC being a successful medical tourist destination.

Posted by: jay panos

What Mark Adams doesn?t get is that the Saudis, or for that matter most other Middle Eastern citizens, are not going to go to Dubai, a nearby "competitor" country, for healthcare. They all want others to come to them but won't accept the "shame" of going to others (nearby). The concept isn't brilliant, it's flawed.

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