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Mon 22 Oct 2007 12:07 AM

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UAE healthcare to reach $12bn

Report finds sector among most dynamic of economy and predicts 14% growth over next five years.

The UAE healthcare sector is among the most dynamic areas of the economy and is set to grow by 14% over the next five years, a study predicts.

According to the report by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the sector currently accounts for almost 6% of Dubai’s non-oil gross domestic product. The market is expected to have risen from $3.2 billion in 2005 to $11.9 billion in 2015, the report says.

The sector is governed by three main regulatory authorities: The Ministry of Health (MoH); Department of Health and Medical Services (DOHMS) and Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC). It currently includes approximately 700 companies working in fields from pharmaceuticals manufacturing and trading to hospitals and clinics.

DHCC, established 2002 aims to make Dubai a global medical hub through the acquisition of local and international technologies and the operation of hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical firms, warehouses, laboratories and research facilities. With total investment of $3bn, it is scheduled for completion in 2010.

According to the DCCI study there are currently eight pharmaceutical factories in the UAE with investments totalling $64.2 million.

The Dubai Bio-technology Initiative (DuBiotech), currently under construction, is a $400 million centre which will feature a 300 hectare biotech science park. It will aim to attract a mix of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies as well as business support and legal services, plus venture capital firms specialising in the biotech industry.

Companies locating in DuBiotech will receive 100% exemption on corporate and personal tax guaranteed for 50 years, 100% ownership of their business, 100% repatriation of capital and profits, no currency restrictions and a fast track visa application process.

Dubai has 22 working hospitals, of which 77% are private and 33% public, according to the report. The number of beds has increased by 36% over the past five years with an average of one bed for every 513 people. However strong population growth has meant the overall capacity of Dubai’s heathcare system has diminished, the study said.

Around 1.5% of Dubai’s total labour force is represented by the sector, the study finds, with 13.4k employees of which 37% are nurses.

The MoH is historically the primary healthcare provider in UAE, offering free healthcare for UAE nationals. The Federal government recently adopted plan to introduce comprehensive health insurance scheme throughout country. It has already launched in Abu Dhabi targeting companies with 100+ employees.

The DCCI report was prepared in advance of this weeks Dubai-Hamburg Business Forum, to run October 23-24, at which healthcare is to be a pivotal issue.

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