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Saudi Arabia Plans to Diversify Into Medical Tourism

Transforming Saudi Arabia into a global medical tourism destination

Saudi Arabia medical tourism

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is focusing on medical tourism as part of its economic diversification strategy. With excellent healthcare facilities, internationally experienced medical staff, and a strategic location, it is well-positioned to attract medical tourists from around the globe.

Major Healthcare Investment

Saudi Arabia has a robust healthcare infrastructure, with the sector commanding a significant portion of the GCC’s healthcare expenditure. The International Trade Administration (ITA) reported that the Kingdom allocated $50.4 billion in healthcare and social development in 2023, reflecting its commitment to the well-being of its citizens and residents.

According to Statista insights, as of 2022, it licensed 497 hospitals and around 77 thousand hospital beds, revealing a notable increase compared to previous years. Leading the initiative to regulate, procure, and privatise the Kingdom’s healthcare industry is the Ministry of Health (MOH), supported by key entities like the National Unified Company for Medical Supplies (NUPCO), the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA), the National Centre for Privatisation (NCP), and the Health Holding Company (HHC), among others.

Currently, the main healthcare sectors driving growth in the nation include dental services, fuelled by high demand for dental care, cosmetic, and preventive treatments. The COVID-19 pandemic has also accelerated the use of digital health solutions, funded by substantial government investments in IT and digital transformation programs. The launch of Seha Virtual Hospital in 2022, the first and largest e-health provider in the Middle East, demonstrates the effectiveness of their initiatives.

Furthermore, the market for health insurance, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals is expanding due to the country’s stricter regulations, rising health concerns, and service consumption. Reports shows the country’s medical equipment industry is projected to reach $6.75 billion, while the pharmaceutical business will hit $5.56 billion by 2024.

Saudi Healthcare Vision 2030

At the forefront of Saudi Arabia’s innovative healthcare changes is Vision 2030, the Kingdom’s ambitious economic reform agenda. The government plans to invest over $65 billion in the healthcare sector to increase efficiency and service delivery through privatisation, public-private partnerships (PPPs), and digital transformation.

Additionally, the MOH aims to establish integrated health clusters across the country to promote preventive and integrated care, each serving approximately one million people.

Recent developments, such as the opening of the Saudi German Hospital in Makkah, further contribute to this effort, offering cutting-edge medical services to both residents and visitors with features like 100 outpatient clinics, 300 beds, state-of-the-art ICU facilities, and advanced surgery rooms.

In line with this, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced the formation of the Pharmaceutical Investment Company (Lifera), a commercial-scale contract development and manufacturing organisation aimed at accelerating the progress of the local biopharmaceutical industry and establishing Saudi Arabia as a global pharmaceutical manufacturing hub.

Saudi Arabia’s Best Hospitals

Earning a spot in Newsweek’s World’s Best Hospitals 2024 is the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre (KFSH&RC) in Riyadh. Based on expert surveys and patient feedback, the hospital received high marks for its contributions to the advancement of specialized medical services, as well as its remarkable clinical care.

Other leading healthcare providers in the region are MOH-King Saud Medical City, Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital, and MOH-King Abdullah Medical City.

The inclusion of Saudi hospitals in international top hospital rankings not only enhances the Kingdom’s credibility but also attracts medical tourists seeking the best medical treatment.

Medical Tourism in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s comprehensive tourism vision aligns seamlessly with its foray into medical tourism. With plans to welcome 150 million tourists by 2030, the Kingdom is investing in infrastructure, cultural attractions, and sustainable tourism projects.

In a bid to further enhance its medical tourism offerings, the country has also forged partnerships with renowned healthcare providers and destinations worldwide. Of particular significance is the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with Thailand, a global leader in medical tourism. This agreement aims to facilitate collaboration in healthcare services, exchange of expertise, and joint promotional activities, thereby fostering mutual growth and benefit.

Alliances with international partners and adherence to world-class standards are critical to Saudi Arabia’s success as it strives to become a globally recognised health tourism destination. These efforts not only enrich the medical tourism landscape but also create a robust environment for medical travellers looking for the best medical treatment overseas.

About MTM Global

MTM Global is a UK-based international healthcare consultancy and online travel agency specializing in premier health tourism.

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