Almost $14 billion is being spent in Arabian Gulf countries on new hospital and healthcare facilities currently in various stages of construction in a series of major public, private and jointly financed initiatives, according to new research.
"In addition, while real estate projects in the region are suffering, not one hospital related project has yet been cancelled or put on hold as a direct result of the current global economic slowdown," said Simon Page, Director of Life Sciences Division, IIR Middle East, organisers of Arab Health which takes place from 26 – 29 January 2009 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
"The Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries are committed to growth in basic infrastructure, of which healthcare is one of the key elements in their long-term strategies," Page added. The new research is based on healthcare related construction monitored by Proleads which maintains the region's most comprehensive database of projects.
The figures show Saudi Arabia leading the way with total healthcare projects valued at more than $6.6 billion currently being built. Current spending in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar on new healthcare facilities is closely matched at $2.9 billion and $2.8 billion respectively.
"No-one would be foolish enough to suggest the economic slowdown is not having impact on the region but, as far as the healthcare sector is concerned, the effects are not expected to be as nearly as dramatic as in other parts of the world," Page said. "Within the GCC, populations are expected to continue growing and governments are budgeting to boost healthcare standards. In addition, new health insurance regulations for expatriates are being introduced across the region which is also a major driving force. "
Providing further proof that the development of the region's healthcare sector is relatively unaffected, Arab Health - the second biggest healthcare event of its kind in the world – is a sell-out in terms of exhibitor space taking up all available space at the venue, Page added.
The Proleads database of healthcare projects shows that Saudi Arabia is in the midst of a major construction programme with a total of 83 projects ranging from the $400 million King Saud University Medical City in Riyadh to the $5 million Qatif Central Hospital expansion in the Eastern Province.
Qatar only has two projects currently underway but one alone is the region's biggest and most ambitious – the Sidra Medical and Research Centre which forms part of Doha's Education City development and budgeted at $2.3 billion.
In the UAE, the biggest project currently underway is the $1.9 billion first phase of the Cleveland Clinic Al Suwwa Island development in Abu Dhabi. Second biggest is the Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum Academic Medical Centre in Dubai Healthcare City budgeted at $572 million.
Kuwait has a major hospital project currently under construction - the $1.2 billion Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah Hospital. Bahrain, meanwhile, is spending $130 million on the King Hamad General Hospital.
In 2008 Arab Health set new records: 2,200 companies exhibited; firms from 65 countries were represented; there were 28 individual country pavilions; and visitors from over 100 countries attended. Arab Health also has the world's largest multi-track series of health conferences attended by over 5,000 delegates from around the globe. The 2009 Congress includes 16 conferences across the entire spectrum of healthcare provision, management and legislation.