DUBAI: Medical tourism sales in the UAE increased 5.5% year-over-year to reach AED 12.1 billion in 2018 with growth supported by a number of government-led initiatives and the rising number of medical tourists in the country, new analysis released by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry revealed.
The analysis, based on recent data from Euromonitor International and Fitch Solutions, found that health expenditure in the UAE amounted to an estimated AED 50.3 billion in 2018, marking a 5.4% increase compared to the previous year.
Key growth factors
Key factors supporting this growth trend include new medical tourism initiatives implemented by government entities and increasing sector privatization of the sector in the form of investment and the building state-of-the-art health facilities.
Among the main initiatives recently introduced by the Dubai Health Authority is the Dubai Health Experience (DXH) which is the first medical tourism portal in the region enabling tourists to book their entire medical holiday online. Furthermore, the Abu Dhabi Department of Health and Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT), jointly launched the Abu Dhabi Medical Tourism e-portal, a digital platform that provides visitors to Abu Dhabi with all medical offerings and healthcare facilities available throughout the duration of their visit.
In addition, the Abu Dhabi DCT and Medical Tourism Association (MTA) have signed a memorandum of understanding to greenlight the opening of the MTA’s first office in Abu Dhabi and the hosting of the World Medical Tourism and Global Healthcare Congress in Abu Dhabi in October 2019.
Growing capacity and momentum
According to the analysis, there were 154 hospitals in the UAE in 2018, up from 107 in 2013. UAE hospitals saw 49.1 million patients visits last year (up 3.5% from 2013), and 789,198 public inpatient admissions were accounted for last year, while 119,897 surgical procedures were performed during the same period.
Orthopaedics, sports medicine, dermatology and skin care, dentistry and fertility treatment are currently among the top specialities for medical tourism in Dubai. Moreover, Dubai Healthcare City is positioning itself as a leading medical tourism destination and it works with industry players to attract more medical tourists from around the world.
Growth momentum behind medical tourism in the UAE is expected to continue over the years with sales in this sector projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR), reaching an estimated value of AED 19.5 billion by 2023. Expo 2020 and continued development of the healthcare sector are project to drive sector growth in the near future, in addition to Dubai government’s target of attracting more than 500,000 medical tourists by 2020.