|22 August, 2019

How Dubai plans to attract 500,000 health tourists by 2021

Dubai attracted 337,011 international health tourists last year

Image used for illustrative purpose. Crowd of people with luggage at international airport.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Crowd of people with luggage at international airport.


Dubai has been vying to improve its position in the world map of health tourism. Though Asian nations are the leading medical tourism destinations, the Gulf emirate hopes its new initiatives will help attract more than half a million medical tourists by 2021.

On Tuesday, following an analysis released by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) on health tourism, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) announced that the emirate attracted 337,011 international health tourists last year, taking it a step closer to achieving that target.

The fourth most visited place in the world, Dubai already has an impressive range of premier accredited clinics and hospitals and over 35,000 healthcare professionals from 110 nationalities, all of which can boost its efforts to become a leading player in the global medical tourism market.

The analysis by the DCCI revealed that medical tourism sales in the UAE increased by 5.5 per cent year-over-year to reach AED 12.1 billion in 2018.

According to the DHA, tourists spent AED 1.163 billion in health tourism last year, and the top three specialties sought out by these health tourists were dentistry, orthopaedics and dermatology. Dental treatment is the most-used service among tourists, with 46 per cent of visitors availing this service last year, while orthopaedics accounted for 18 per cent and dermatology treatment for 10 per cent. Ophthalmology, wellness, aesthetics and fertility treatments are also popular among tourists, the DHA said. 

One of the leading DHA initiatives to enhance Dubai’s efforts to promote medical tourism is Dubai Health Experience (DXH), a portal and app that enables tourists to book their entire medical holiday online. Another is a comprehensive health tourism guide.

Humaid Al Qutami, Director General of DHA, said, “The authority is on the right path to achieve its strategic goals of becoming a leading destination for health tourism, especially with the launch of DXH, the first website of its kind that helps health tourists make well-informed decisions and with the increase of medical tourists from 107,000 in 2012 to 337,000 in 2018.”

DXH was also launched to fulfil the emirate’s goal of attracting 500,000 medical tourists by 2021. It offers a wide range of comprehensive health packages and extensive travel information, including visa requirements as well as hotel and flight booking information.

“To further strengthen the position of Dubai on the health tourism world map, the DHA has recently revamped the DXH website,” said Dr Marwan Al Mulla, CEO of the Health Regulation Sector. “The web portal receives more than 10,000 unique visitors each month and now includes for languages: Arabic, English, Russian and Chinese.”

The new services added to the website include a “free second medical opinion” for international health tourists through select facilities in Dubai.

“We have also recently launched the guide for Dubai Health Tourism, which provides insights on healthcare and wellness facilities that form part of the DXH Group,” Dr Al Mulla said. “The 2019 Dubai Health tourism guide includes the details of the DXH Group members, and it will further strengthen the position of Dubai on the health tourism world map.”

According to the DHA, the majority of international patients who come to Dubai are from Arab and GCC countries and comprise 33 per cent of all international health tourists. Most are from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

Other parts of Asia, comprising some 30 per cent of visitors, come from India, Iran and Pakistan. European tourists, consisting mostly of UK, French and Italian citizens, make up 16 per cent of health and wellness tourists.

(Reporting by Seban Scaria seban.scaria@refinitiv.com; editing by Daniel Luiz)

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© ZAWYA 2019

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