By Staff writer
Senior Dubai Healthcare City official says emirate aims to treat 500,000 medical tourists annually within five years
Revenues from Dubai's medical tourism sector are expected to cross AED2.6 billion ($710 million) by 2020, according to an official from the Dubai Healthcare Authority.
Speaking at the Al Masah Capital Annual Investor Forum, Dr Fatma Al Sharaf, senior manager for strategy and partner development at Dubai Healthcare City, said about 500,000 medical tourists will be treated in Dubai in 2020.
In 2014, Dubai treated 135,000 medical tourists, which comprised about 1.1 percent of the total tourist arrivals in the country, she said.
She added that this year, the number is expected to reach 150,000 and will increase to 170,000 in 2016, with revenues of about AED1.1 billion.
Al Sharaf said that in terms of capacity, the DHA plans to build 18 private hospitals in the next few years, with the number of private-sector healthcare staff expected to increase by more than 3,800.
The forum was told that while the UAE government is working towards reaching these goals, they can only be met with the active participation of the private sector.
According to a survey conducted by DHCC, 80 percent of medical tourists come to Dubai for quality of care while 48 percent highlighted the availability of specialist treatments.
A standard ranking system, slated for rollout in 2016, is also being developed by the Dubai Healthcare Authority to rate hospitals in the emirate based on their overall performance and hospitality.
This move is expected to enable prospective medical tourists to discern what type of facility they want, based on the price and place.
Shailesh Dash, founder and CEO of Al Masah Capital, which manages healthcare service provider AVIVO Group, said: "This is a fantastic forecast for the UAE healthcare industry, but this also highlights the important fact that both the government and private healthcare companies need to work hand in hand in order to realistically serve that many patients and generate the estimated revenues."For all the latest health tips & news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.