United Arab Emirates - Country Commercial Guide
Healthcare and Life Science

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-07-26

Overview

There are many opportunities for U.S. exporters in the UAE’s healthcare and life sciences sectors.

As one of the most economically developed and diversified markets in the Middle East, the UAE has a strong healthcare infrastructure. The creation of a world-class healthcare infrastructure is a top priority for the Government of the UAE and, as a result, the sector has advanced and expanded significantly during the past few years.

The UAE government quickly took precautionary health measures after the breakout of COVID-19 in January 2020. The robust efforts of the UAE’s leadership resulted in the UAE being globally ranked as one of the top countries, and the highest in the Arab world, in terms of its COVID-19 response.

The UAE healthcare sector has expanded to meet both the evolving needs of the UAE’s population and the nation’s ambition to become a regional medical tourism hub. The COVID-19 pandemic has led the UAE to redouble its commitment to investing in healthcare.

As the incidence of lifestyle diseases increases, these populations, supported by relatively high levels of income, continue to demand greater quality of healthcare. The World Health Organization has determined that a third of the adults in the UAE are obese, and one out of five people live with diabetes. The government has focused on developing a healthcare infrastructure to address this demand.

Both federal and emirate-level governments regulate healthcare in the UAE. The most important federal regulatory authority in the UAE healthcare sector is the Ministry of Health and Prevention. The UAE Government is liberalizing policies to attract foreign investments to improve the healthcare standard and boost the healthcare industry.

Government commitment to the healthcare sector is one of the key drivers of growth within the UAE’s healthcare market, particularly given that public spending accounts for over two-thirds of overall healthcare expenditure. In the 2022 federal budget, a total of $15.8 billion (AED 58.931 billion) was approved for public spending out of which 8.4% is dedicated to healthcare. While this does not constitute total government expenditure in the UAE (it does not include spending at the emirate level), it is nonetheless a solid indicator of the UAE’s fiscal stance.

The UAE government endeavors to utilize greater data monitoring tools for preemptive COVID contact tracing and to license virtual medical service providers. The government also plans to build national capacities to fight future pandemics which include efforts to develop vaccines and medicines, digital immunization IDs, and a new strategy focusing on supply chains. The Ministry of Health aims to develop the sector by focusing more on Health IT, including telemedicine and digital medicine.

The UAE government wants to boost the number of medical tourists coming to the UAE. Also, the pandemic’s upending of travel greatly diminished international patient care, a key component of the U.S.-UAE relationship, and reinforced the UAE’s conviction to develop its local healthcare capacity.

Arab Health, the region’s premier healthcare conference and trade event held annually in Dubai, continues to be an engine for ideas, partnerships, innovation, and collaboration.

UAE’s Vision 2040 has healthcare as a priority sector for the UAE government, and the country will continue to be an attractive location for establishing a regional distribution center for healthcare services.

The major players in the private healthcare market in the UAE include Al-Noor Medical Company, VPS Healthcare, Tumbay group, Al-Zahra Group, Belhoul Lifecare, Emirates Healthcare, Mediclinic Middle East, Aster DM Healthcare, Gulf Healthcare International, Gulf Medical Projects Company, Zulekha Hospital, Saudi German Hospital Group, and Aster DM Healthcare.

Nearly 70% of more than 4,000 facilities have international accreditation, including hospitals, ambulatory services, clinics, polyclinics, and primary care centers. This  is expected to continue to increase in the years to come.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Pharmaceuticals

The UAE’s pharmaceutical market is rapidly growing. Although the UAE imports most of its drugs at present, this is beginning to change, and some international pharmaceutical giants have partnered with UAE companies to locally manufacture products. The COVID-19 pandemic sharpened the UAE’s focus on investing in the life sciences, both in the UAE and abroad.

Medical Equipment

The projected growth of the UAE’s medical equipment market broadly mirrors that of other sectors. Given that the UAE produces relatively little medical equipment domestically, this means significant business opportunities for international companies. That said, the pandemic has led the UAE to explore local production of certain medical equipment. Diagnostic imaging equipment comprises a large percentage of the UAE medical device market.

Healthcare Information Technology

The UAE’s Healthcare Information Technology market is expected to grow swiftly in coming years. The pandemic continues to create opportunities for the tele health/medicine sector expansion, driven by remote healthcare services through technology platforms. The Ministry of Health is working with an Emirates Integrated Telecommunication Company PJSC (“Du”) to enhance options for tele-based healthcare. These included “Virtual Hospital” where doctors and nurses can provide remote care to patients using AI and smart devices and monitoring.

Education and Research

To meet its ever-increasing need for qualified medical professionals, the UAE has sought to grow its nascent medical education and training capacity. It also strives to make the country a regional hub for medical research and events.

Opportunities

There are numerous hospital construction and renovation programs underway. A growing medical tourism sector is boosting demand for modern facilities with the latest medical equipment, and there is competition between the seven Emirates to attract medical tourism.

The Ministry of Health continues to modernize hospitals in the country with the latest technology aimed at preventing and treating the increasing incidence of non-communicable diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. The Dubai Health Authority will continue to align medical technology to smart city planning and implementation efforts.

Trade Shows and Exhibitions

Arab Health

January 30 – February 2, 2023

Dubai World Trade Center, Dubai, UAE

www.arabhealthonline.com

 

Med Lab

February 6-9, 2023

Dubai World Trade Center, Dubai, UAE

www.medlabme.com/en/congress/overview.html