Oman wants to be regional leader of medical tourism

Oman wants to take over from Jordan, and see off the threat from Dubai and other UAE states, as the leading centre of medical tourism in the Gulf and Middle East, but not until after 2016.

The Sultanate of Oman plans to spend $1.5 billion on the construction of The International Medical City. The three-phase project is led by Saudi based Apex Medical in partnership with the Ministries of Tourism and Health in Oman.

Completion is expected by 2016 and aims to offer the latest healthcare to locals and medical tourists. There will be a healthcare resort with a luxury hotel and wellness centre. It will include the region’s first purpose-built transplantation and rehabilitation centre, and Oman’s first advanced tertiary care hospital and diagnostics centre. The 5 million square metre project will also include residential space, shopping malls and teaching hospitals.

The development will be vital for the Gulf state’s health care system, which built its last major hospital 20 years ago. The healthcare system of Oman is coming under increasing pressure.

Apex Medical has signed a strategic partnership agreement with Methodist International, the global subsidiary of The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, USA for the development and operations of the International Medical City in Salalah.

Methodist International will coordinate development and set up the management and operation system of the hospital, including the recruitment and training of staff. A clinical and administrative team of consultants from Houston will focus on the development and establishment of clinical, operational and quality standards. Following the opening of the hospital, Methodist International will be involved in a 10-year affiliation focused on quality, training and knowledge transfer management.

Dr Naeema Aziz of Apex Medical says, “International Medical City will open a new chapter in Oman’s healthcare development. It will establish the Sultanate as a regional hub for transplant based medical tourism, encompassing kidney, liver and pancreas transplantation and rehabilitation services.”

Like other Arab states, Oman is heavily reliant on income earned through oil exports. The economy has enjoyed a boom due to high international oil prices. The government intends to spend heavily on its infrastructure.

The hospital is on the waterfront overlooking the Arabian Sea. The first phase will centre on the construction of a 530-bed hospital supported by three proposed centres of excellence in transplantation services, rehabilitative care, and diagnostic services. Phase 2 is a healthcare resort complete with 4-star medical hotel; residential quarters for staff; serviced apartments for customers; and commercial space. The third phase will focus on the development of a medical education complex with medical and nursing colleges, plus a research centre.