UAE corners regional medical tourism market

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NEW MEDICINE: The value of the UAE's healthcare sector is projected to jump by seven percent in comparison to 2009. (Getty Images)

NEW MEDICINE: The value of the UAE's healthcare sector is projected to jump by seven percent in comparison to 2009. (Getty Images)

More than 4.3m medical tourists will visit the UAE this year, with the value of the industry projected to jump by seven percent in comparison to 2009, according to data released by the government.

The UAE is the Middle East’s biggest market for medical tourism.

The local sector will be worth $1.7bn in 2010, with the second half alone seeing 13 percent growth over the same period last year.

Local experts have put these results down to better infrastructure, state-of-the-art medical centres, and modern technology.

A senior official from the Canadian Specialist Hospital in Deira revealed that more than 1,500 patients came from the US to visit the facility every month.

"Treatment rates in the UAE are lower than overseas hospitals, while the country's hospitals and healthcare centres offer a higher level of diagnostic, curative and rehabilitative services,” said Mohammed Rashid Al Falasi, chairman of the Canadian Specialist Hospital.

“We have hospitals, such as the CSH, offering ultra-high standards of medical services that reflect the development of medicine in the UAE, as well as the world's simplest and most positive healthcare regulations [in the UAE] when it comes to dealing with patients from all over the world."

Al Falasi said that around $20.6bn was being spent on providing international healthcare services for UAE nationals and residents, and that concentration on the local sector would create more jobs.

According to data obtained from the UAE Ministry of Health, the volume of medical tourism traffic worldwide is estimated at between 38-40m people over the last three years.

The value of the global industry could rise to as much as $95.1bn by 2015.

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