Complex Made Simple

Cutting open Dubai medical tourism market

In response to the Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA) initiative to boost the growing health industry, international surgeons and medical practitioners are flocking to the country to take advantage of the growing demand for specialist procedures and medical tourism into the UAE.

The DHA recently announced 22 new hospitals are to be built as part of its plans to attract 500,000 medical tourists a year and boost the local economy by up to Dhs2.6bn by 2020. On top of this, the Emirate has created new three-month renewable visas for medical tourists, offered with a choice of travel and accommodation packages.

Dr. Kasem Abu Bakr, one of the world’s leading plastic surgeons, is one of many physicians relocating his practise to Dubai as the city launches itself as the Middle East’s top destination for wellness and plastic surgery.

“The demand for cosmetic and plastic surgery in Dubai continues to grow as more and more people see the city as a viable destination for medical tourism,” he said. “The DHA’s latest initiatives, combined with a growing international reputation as a trusted medical destination, make Dubai one of the most attractive markets for new practices and surgeries, and that is projected to continue to grow at a rate far outstripping that of Beverly Hills and Brazil – the world’s leading markets for cosmetic surgery,” he added.

Dr. Kasem has been visiting Dubai to perform surgeries regularly for the last two years and has already built up a base of patients and a reputation for professionalism and artistry in the region.

He said: “The relocation of his practise to Dubai is the result of growing demand for his services from local Emiratis, as well as patients from other GCC countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar. There has also been high demand from expats from Europe and Australia. As the reputation of Dubai as a destination grows, it will equal medical tourism destinations such as the US, Singapore, Thailand and India.”

Globally, medical tourism continues to grow. According to a 2013 Transparency Market Research report The global medical tourism market was valued at $10.5bn (Dhs38.5bn) in 2012 and is estimated to reach a market worth $32.5bn (Dhs119bn) in 2019. In 2012, 107,000 medical tourists visited the Dubai, generating Dhs652m. By 2016, the DHA expects that number to increase to 170,000, with revenues of about Dh1.1bn.