Dubai needs no introduction as a holiday destination. It is one of the most visited cities in the world, with breath-taking tourist attractions from cultural souks and spectacular malls to a wealth of award-winning restaurants, beautiful beaches and glamorous nightlife. It also, of course, features the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa.
In line with its pursuit of excellence, Dubai has invested heavily in its healthcare infrastructure over the years and aims to become one of the best medical and wellness tourism destinations. In fact, it is today ranked sixth in the Global Medical Tourism Index issued by the International Health Care Research Centre (IHRC).
Becoming a leading medical tourism hub
Healthcare in Dubai is governed by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), who have stepped up efforts to develop medical tourism as a key pillar of economic diversification in recent years. These endeavours appear to be paying off.
Mohamed Al Mheiri, Director of Health Tourism Department at the DHA, said that Dubai received 350,118 health tourists in 2019, who spent approximately AED 727 million (or USD 197 million).
Dubai intends to build on this pre-pandemic success, offering global medical and wellness tourists the opportunity to recover and recuperate after the physical and mental toll of this challenging period.
Attracting the best clinics to Dubai
Dubai has several prestigious private clinics and multi-national healthcare institutions, including the American Hospital Dubai, Mediclinic, Saudi German Hospitals and others.
The most sought after medical specialities in 2019 were dermatology, dental and orthopaedic treatments. However, there are many other services available in the Dubai healthcare market. The Dubai Health Experience (DXH) group recently announced the construction of a state of the art specialised fertility centre and a heart and lung services partnership between the Meitra Care Network from India and the Canadian Specialist Hospital (CSH) in Dubai.
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Vaccine tourism in Dubai
Vaccine tourism is expected to be another demand stream. The DHA recently announced that Chinese nationals would be the first non-residents to be eligible for the Sinopharm vaccine in the country. Visitors are expected to have prolonged stays in the country in order to take both doses.
Dubai’s post-pandemic health tourism strategy also includes introducing preventive medicine and alternative health practices such as Ayurvedic medicine and yoga. These specialties will complement the abundance of luxury spa resorts and high-quality holistic therapies that are available in Dubai today.
Biohacking in Dubai
One of the latest niche wellness trends gaining popularity in Dubai is biohacking, as a growing number of people seek to lengthen their lifespan, improve their brain health and optimise performance.
While still in its infancy as a scientific field, there are some functional medicine doctors emerging with science-based biohacking programs.
As international travel resumes this summer, the UAE is hoping to strike quarantine-free deals with Europe and the US. There are already agreements with the Seychelles, Greece, Serbia, Italy and other countries, and more routes are opening up every day.
Before the pandemic, Dubai set a target of reaching 500,000 annual medical tourists, and with its renewed ambition and interest in the health and wellness industries, that target is probably close to being realised.
There are certainly promising prospects in store for health tourists seeking everything from medical treatment and annual health check-ups to luxury wellness retreats in Dubai.
Stay tuned to the Medical Travel Market to find out the latest developments from leading medical tourism destinations and premier service providers worldwide.