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Tue 5 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Online first as local health website unveiled

A local investment firm has joined the ‘click for care' drive with the launch of a dual-language healthcare site, aimed at cornering the United Arab Emirate's online health market.

A local investment firm has joined the ‘click for care' drive with the launch of a dual-language healthcare site, aimed at cornering the United Arab Emirate's online health market.

The Minhaal web portal is the product of a tie-up between Mubadala Healthcare, a branch of the Abu Dhabi state-owned Mubadala Development Company, and WebMD, one of America's leading consumer health sites.

"It will be the Arabic-English equivalent of WebMD - we are licensing the content from them," explained Mark Erhart, executive director of Mubadala Healthcare. "We're very proud of this project."

The deal will give users access to peer-reviewed information on more than 65 disease topics, and mean that Minhaal can offer Arabic-only speakers a far more comprehensive source of information than previously available, when users relied on unregulated Arabic portals for health facts. "If you have an elderly relative, for example, that doesn't speak English; you can look up their condition and they can read it in Arabic and understand more about the issue," Erhart said.

Now in its first phase, the site would expand to cover an added 200 topics before long, he added.

WebMD is also the owner of popular continuing medical education (CME) website Medscape. Erhart refused to reveal whether the tie-up between the two firms would see Mubadala launch a local version of Medscape, but admitted he was "actively looking" at the market. "We'll be announcing something later this year," he said.

The website is the latest in a series of what Erhart calls "all-star team" alliances with brand names including Cleveland Clinic and Imperial College London. Last month saw Mubadala break ground for the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, a tertiary care facility slated to open its doors in 2011. Mubadala now has plans to invest in Abu Dhabi's primary care and ancillary service sectors, as part of its goal for an integrated care network.

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