337,011 health tourists to Dubai in 2018

According to the Saudi Gazette, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has revealed that the emirate welcomed 337,011 health tourists in 2018, which resulted in over AED1.163 billion (US$320m) worth of medical expenditures from visiting international health tourists over the same period. A third of these came from other Arab and GCC countries, particularly Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Oman.

The DHA announced these figures during the Arabian Travel Market event in Dubai last month.

The DHA confirmed 33% percent of the international patients came from the Arab and GCC countries, while 30% were from Asia and 16% from Europe. The greatest number of visitors from Arab and GCC countries were from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. In Asia, India, Iran and Pakistan were the topmost visitors, while nationalities from Italy, UK and France led the ranks from Europe.

The article says that wellness specialty is gaining popularity among Asians, followed by Arabs and European nationalities. Africa also came across as a rapidly developing source market attracting health tourists primarily for dental and orthopedic treatments.

The key specialties attracting the health tourism were claimed to be dental, orthopedic, dermatology ophthalmology, health and wellness, aesthetics and fertility. Key specialties continue to show growth trends, with dental tourism highlighting increased popularity and accounting for 46%, orthopedic (18%) and dermatology (10%) of the total international health tourist availing services for various specialties.

Beside the growth in the numbers of health tourists, the article says there has been a 9% growth in the number of healthcare facilities vetted and included in the health tourism DXH Group member program. DXH.ae, the electronic portal for health tourism in Dubai lists over 600 packages from 72 healthcare facilities that includes 18 hospitals and 54 specialties centers.

Dr. Marwan Al Mullah, CEO Health Regulation Sector, DHA, is quoted as saying “the positive trends in both medical tourism and wellness tourism in Dubai continues to present huge potentials for growth. Through the continued efforts of the government and the private sector – Dubai continues to establish a positive appeal for health tourism in Dubai.”

“The adaptation of latest innovation in the field of stem cell and regenerative medicine, 3 D printing will continue to surge the growth of number of health tourists coming to the Emirates. DHA’s new and simplified health care licensing procedures will encourage more investment flow to the health sector in Dubai and will continue to attract highly qualified medical professionals from around the globe. This will encourage health tourists from the region to access world-class services and innovative technology provided by the finest healthcare professionals in close proximity instead of travelling miles for the same.” He added.

Ms. Linda Abdullah Ali Ruhi, Consultant Health tourism department, is also quoted saying “Our focus is to create an experience in the health delivery standard, integrate and package medical and wellness services and open new markets for Dubai. Key destination focused campaigns; partnerships with the key stakeholder within the health and wellness space have supported the growth in the sector. The department is actively promoting its #DXHWellness campaign aimed at encouraging a healthy and holistic lifestyle.”

For further analysis of the medical travel sector in Dubai, visit the IMTJ Country Profile.