Dubai is increasingly becoming a destination of choice among individuals seeking medical care overseas, with the number of so-called “health tourists” travelling to the emirate surging and spending nearly $200 million recently.
The number of medical tourists who travelled to Dubai despite pandemic-related restrictions doubled in 2021 and spent close to $198 million on healthcare, according to new data released by Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA).
In its white paper that provides insights into the regional healthcare sector, DHCA also predicted that healthcare spending in Dubai and the rest of the GCC region will continue to grow, posting a CAGR of 4.9% to $99.6 billion in 2023 from $86.2 billion in 2020.
The growth will be led by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which will account around 80% share of the total spending.
Medical tourism is a growing industry, with around 14 million people estimated to travel each year to seek healthcare outside their home country, according to the Medical Tourism Association.
The global medical tourism market value is forecast to reach $53.51 billion in 2028 from $13.98 billion in 2021, Fortune Business Insights had said.
“Dramatic advances in the healthcare sector fueled by the introduction of novel medical devices and non-invasive procedures are fueling the rise of medical tourism globally,” it said in a report.
Dubai’s healthcare sector
In its whitepaper, the DHCA highlighted, among others, the resilience of Dubai’s healthcare industry. The Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC), the UAE’s freezone dedicated to healthcare, contributed AED 2.8 billion ($762.3 million) to Dubai’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021.
The figure is forecast to grow to AED 3.4 billion by 2030. The freezone also facilitated the creation of 15,760 jobs in Dubai.
“Since DHCC was launched in 2002, we have dedicated our efforts to realise Dubai’s goals of becoming a global leader in healthcare and wellness. To be able to address market demand, it is vital to understand its realities, and this whitepaper will help us cater to the needs of our partners and the wider healthcare industry,” the authority said.
(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)