United Arab Emirates - Country Commercial Guide
Healthcare and Life Science
Last published date:


As one of the most advanced and dynamic markets in the Middle East, the UAE already has a strong healthcare infrastructure and is quickly adding clinical research and manufacturing capabilities.  Leveraging this world-class healthcare infrastructure to make the UAE into a regional healthcare innovation hub with medical tourism and medical-grade logistics is a top priority for the UAE. 

The UAE healthcare sector has expanded to meet both the evolving needs of the UAE’s 11 million population and the establishment of Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic-branded hospitals in the UAE that positions the nation to become a regional medical tourism hub for specialty treatments that are not available elsewhere.

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 or pre-diabetes. As the incidence of lifestyle diseases increases, these populations, supported by relatively high levels of income, continue to demand greater quality of healthcare. 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. 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 $17.18 billion (AED 63.066 billion) was approved for public spending out of which 7.6% is dedicated to healthcare. In addition, there are dedicated healthcare budgets overseen by the Dubai Health Authority and the Abu Dhabi Department of Health.

The COVID-19 pandemic led the UAE to redouble its commitment to investing in healthcare based on the success of a large-scale vaccine clinical trial and establishment of a vaccine distribution hub for the whole region. 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 government is already building 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. A state-of-the-art vaccine fill and finish manufacturing facility is near completion and a biosimilars manufacturing plant is planned.  The Ministry of Health aims to develop the sector by focusing more on telemedicine and digital medicine.

Main Players

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. The number of accredited facilities is expected to continue to increase in the years to come.

Leading Sub-Sectors


The UAE’s pharmaceutical market is rapidly growing and pharmaceutical prices are often 10 to 20 percent higher in the UAE than in other countries in the Middle East region. 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.

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.  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 to enhance options for telemedicine. These included “Virtual Hospital” where doctors and nurses can provide remote care to patients using artificial intelligence and smart devices and monitoring.

Education and Clinical Research 

To meet its ever-increasing need for qualified medical professionals, the UAE has sought to grow its nascent medical education and training capacity. At the same time, it strives to make the country a regional hub for medical research and events.  The UAE is preparing for mainstream clinical trials and the Mayo Clinic in Abu Dhabi opened a new clinical trial center in January 2023. The Emirati Genome Project with 400,000 human samples and the Abu Dhabi Department of Health Electronic Medical Record System with 2.6 million members make it easy to identify potential clinical trial participants. 

Intellectual Property

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention established robust Intellectual Property protection of pharmaceutical products by issuing Decree 321 on September 21, 2020. Decree 321 states that for a period of eight years from the date of marketing approval of a new drug in the UAE, the marketing authorization holder has exclusive rights to the clinical data underlying approval of the pharmaceutical product. The eight-year data exclusivity period provided under Decree 321 is the longest in the region that protects the value of drugs by temporarily blocking regulatory approvals of generic versions.

The UAE does not yet provide additional incentives for innovation in the form of extensions of the market exclusivity period when companies conduct additional clinical trials to obtain regulatory approval for the broader use of existing drugs, such as for the treatment of pediatric patients or of orphan diseases. The UAE also does not yet provide additional incentives for innovation in the form of longer market exclusivity periods for biologic drugs, which sometimes are more expensive to develop.

The UAE zero-tolerance for fake cosmetics makes the UAE beauty and personal care product market even more attractive for U.S. exporters. The UAE government is taking vigorous measures against fake products and making the $1.3 billion beauty and personal care product market more attractive for U.S. exporters with premium brands and valuable trademarks.

A “zero-tolerance” policy against importers of counterfeit products is implemented through laws and regulations as well as inspections and cooperation with the registered brand owners. Brand owners identifying fake products on the market may report incidents to the Department of Economic Development in every Emirate to file a complaint.  In addition, customs authorities play a significant role in the monitoring of imported and exported goods.

Cosmetics and Personal Care

Total revenues in the UAE beauty and personal care market are projected to reach $1.4 billion in 2023, with 27.5% coming from eCommerce channels, according to statista.com.  The personal care segment has the largest share of $518.8 million, followed by skin care ($292.5 million), cosmetics ($174.5 million) and fragrances ($142.7 million).

U.S. exporters should look carefully at potential opportunities in this market. The 9.9 million population of the UAE consists of 10% Emirati citizens and 90% of people other nationalities, creating a very diverse market. Consumer purchasing power is high due to per capita income levels of $53,348 per year.

Consumer needs and preferences are affected by many factors, including the diverse cultural backgrounds of the population, but there is an overriding desire to try new brands.  UAE nationals often prefer traditional Arabic fragrances, such as oud, musk, sandalwood and Bukhoor, in products like perfumes, soaps, shower gels as opposed to western scents. The combination of high-income levels and interest in premium brand creates a more discerning customer, who demands high quality in terms of packaging and ingredients. There is also a growing interest in sustainable and environmentally friendly products.  

The UAE is a highly competitive market so a carefully prepared marketing strategy, including clear product differentiation and analysis of local culture, is important to successfully build a strong brand name.  Similar to the rest of the world, social media and influencer marketing both have a strong presence among the UAE market consumers. There is an increasing demand for products personalized according to skin types, personal regime, favored scents.  Moreover, a strong focus on environmental impact, sustainability, recyclable packaging, clean and cruelty- free ingredients should be considered.

Registration of products in the UAE is handled by distributors. The Dubai and Abu Dhabi municipality registration portals are only accessible by UAE registered companies who have an active license.


There are numerous new 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

Please contact us for additional information regarding trade shows, U.S. pavilions, and export promotion services that may be available for U.S. companies.

​​​​​​​Arab Health Middle East

Date: January 29 – February 1, 2024

Venue: Dubai World Trade Center, Dubai, UAE


DUPHAT Dubai Pharmaceutical Trade Show

Date: January 9-11, 2024

Venue:  Dubai World Trade Center, Dubai, UAE


Med Lab Middle East

Date: February 5-8, 2024

Venue: Dubai World Trade Center, Dubai, UAE


Beauty World Middle East

Date: October 30 – November 1, 2024

Venue: Dubai World Trade Center, Dubai, UAE