UAE sizes up $100b industry
The medical tourism worldwide is set to become a $100 billion industry this year and the UAE has potential to get considerable share of it because of excellent infrastructure, standard quality healthcare and competitive pricing, a senior official of RAK Hospital said.
The UAE is of the few countries in the world, which has identified medical tourism as a national industry with 14 hospitals are accredited by the Joint Commission International in the US, one of the world’s leading accreditation organisations.
“The emirate has some of the best hospitals in the world. Billions of dollars have been invested in the healthcare system, especially in Dubai and accredited clinics across the country to attract medical tourists from across the globe,” Raza Siddiqui, executive director, RAK Hospital, told Khaleej Timesduring an interview.
Siddiqui, who is also chief executive of Arabian Healthcare Group, said the UAE has better chance to become most favoured medical tourism destination with superlative healthcare facilities. He said India, which is considered the most ideal medical tourism destination, is eyeing to capture 20 per cent of $100 billion industry.
“Dubai, being a central place for tourist and a connecting destination, we can aim to capture 10-15 per cent of India’s share of medical tourism. Also, people travelling from Africa or nearby countries have to change flights in Dubai to reach India, Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore, hence we can aim at these tourists,” he said.
Citing a report by Economic Intelligence Unit, he said overall healthcare spending in the region is expected to increase from an estimated $8 billion in 2010 to almost double at $16.8 billion in 2015, representing an annual average rise of 16 per cent.
“The UAE and Dubai in particular has taken lot of efforts to establish itself as a tourist destination. Today, the UAE attracts 30,000 to 40,000 tourists per day and it scores A++ as tourist destination that may pave way for medical tourism as well,” he said.
Elaborating his point of view, he said world’s leading medical tourism destinations such as Switzerland, London, Thailand have initially developed themselves as tourist destinations and then with best medical facilities these countries managed to attract medical tourists as well.
“With rapid infrastructure growth over the last 40 years and boasting of some of the best medical facilities available in the world, the UAE has become a magnet for medical tourism,” he said.