This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Healthcare continues to be a priority for the Qatari leadership. Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare was a national spending priority due to the important role of the National Health Strategy within the National Vision 2030. The Qatari government is constantly upgrading the quality of its health services, drawing heavily on imported technology and equipment, as well as international expertise and knowledge. According to industry estimates, the market for medical equipment will grow over the next five years and relies heavily on imports from Europe, Asia, and the United States.
Qatar’s strong interest in importing medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, healthcare technologies, and supplies from the United States is driven by two factors: (1) the rise of new construction projects for hospitals and healthcare centers, such as the Northwestern Medicine facility that opened in September 2020, and the Cedars Sinai facility scheduled to open in late 2022; and (2) Qatar’s lack of local production capacity in this area. Qataris needing advanced medical treatment have historically taken advantage of specialized treatment options overseas (including in the United States). However, under Vision 2030, Qatar has ambitious plans underway to expand its network of specialized care facilities in Qatar.
Until May 2022, healthcare in Qatar is free or heavily subsidized. Now, a new Qatari healthcare law provides free health services for Qatari citizens at public medical facilities and mandates private health insurance for residents, visitors, and tourists. This law is only in partial effect and is expected to boost the domestic healthcare industry, make the insurance market more competitive, and open it up to foreign investment. The industry is expected to grow exponentially as foreign insurance firms come into Qatar seeking local business opportunities. There is room for U.S. healthcare insurance firms to grow in this nascent industry.
The Gulf Rift from 2017-2021 between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt severely impacted the medical device trade. During that time, all trade was suspended and consequently, the industry slowed down considerably, which opened avenues for new suppliers to enter the market. The Qatari government offers a range of incentives to prompt more local firms to break into this expanding market.
Rising cases of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases, cancer, and diabetes can be traced to lifestyle-related or behavioral risk factors such as a diet heavy in fat and physical inactivity. The National Vision 2030 plan calls for coverage of preventive and curative healthcare (both physical and mental) and an integrated system of healthcare offering high-quality services through public and private institutions. Additionally, the population in general, has become more conscious of holistic health, proper diet and exercise, natural/organic foods, smaller portions, veganism, vegetarianism, and clean eating. U.S. firms in the healthcare sector that focus on chronic disease care (products and services) and U.S. companies offering health-conscious products and supplements are in demand.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be a significant marker for Qatar as there will be a large need for healthcare access, networks, and infrastructure in place to meet the demands of a huge influx of visitors for the games.
Sub-Sector Best Prospects
- Medical Equipment
- Medical Supplies
- Specialized medical services, including for persons with special needs
- Healthcare technology, including but not limited to telemedicine
- Telemedicine, E-health technology, and data management
- Insurance (expatriate insurance and short-term, tourist/travel insurance)
The Qatar Healthcare Facilities Master Plan, the country’s first guide for managing the growth of healthcare infrastructure, outlines more opportunities for U.S. business partnerships. Qatar will be establishing 31 health centers leading up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The full plan aims to deliver 48 new facilities that range from primary health care centers, diagnostic and treatment centers, pharmacies, hospital expansions and the building of both general and specialized hospitals, and the acquisition of cutting-edge technology and major medical equipment.
Hamad Medical Cooperation has unveiled a new 15-year master plan that includes doubling the number of hospital beds and operating theaters in the country and tripling car parking provisions by 2030.
The healthcare sector is witnessing reform initiatives. One of the reforms includes broadening public-private partnerships and giving the private sector a larger role in the provision of healthcare services.
In addition, the Weill-Cornell Medicine School in Qatar (WCMQ), located in Qatar Foundation’s Education City, is a joint venture between the Qatar Foundation and Cornell University. This research-intensive medical institution is a unique facet of the U.S.-Qatar partnership that U.S. businesses could explore to develop new projects, particularly in areas such as healthcare technology, data management, telemedicine support/training, and other educational tools.
World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) – an Initiative of Qatar Foundation; October 4-6, 2022; Doha, Qatar
WISH is an annual conference on healthcare that highlights developments and key trends. Healthcare industry experts are encouraged to participate, engage with key healthcare sector players in Qatar, and speak on panels if the opportunity presents itself.
Arab Health 2023; January 30-February 2, 2022; Dubai World Trade Center, UAE
Contact the Commercial Section of the U.S. Embassy.