Tourism is an important part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) economy. Though the country is known for leisure tourism, it has made great strides in boosting medical tourism, especially in Dubai.

The UAE offers government-funded health services and fast-growing private health industries that provide high-quality health care. It has a well-developed health system, and Dubai’s healthcare is top-notch. Medical tourists are visiting to take advantage of its world-class facilities and foreign experts in a variety of disciplines.

This article will discuss the growth of medical tourism in Dubai, including statistics on traveling patients, the treatments they seek, and the role of the government in healthcare tourism.

Medical Tourism in the UAE

Globally, the medical tourism sector is booming, and patients are seeking all types of treatments across borders. More and more countries are now attempting to increase their number of medical tourists.

Over the last several years, the UAE established itself as one of the top medical tourism destinations in the world, attracting significant medical institutes of international esteem.

According to a 2018 survey, the UAE’s healthcare system was at the top of the list of industrial sectors that is expected to develop in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). By 2027, the country’s medical tourism market is expected to grow to $273.72 billion from $104.68 billion in 2019.

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The UAE Medical Tourism Market Size

Recently a Dubai medical tourism statistics report cited that there were around half a million medical tourists in the UAE in 2020.

Where are these medical tourists coming from, and what healthcare issues do they usually need help with?

Based on an article by Omnia Health, medical tourists from Asia make up the largest group of visitors at 37%, followed by Arab and GCC countries (31%). Visitors from Europe came in third at 15%.

Medical tourists come to the UAE for checkups and procedures. These include dental treatments, orthopedic treatments, reproductive treatments, organ transplants, cosmetic surgeries, and so on. The most popular areas of medicine that foreign patients seek care for are ophthalmology, orthopedics, and dermatology.

The Government’s Role in Developing Medical Tourism in the UAE

Dubai’s health system, including public and private healthcare,  is managed by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA). Dubai is known for having one of the greatest public health care systems in the world, with high-quality medical treatment delivered in state-of-the-art facilities.

It’s no surprise that the local government has set its sights on growing UAE medical tourism. To help promote Dubai medical tourism, the government launched the 2030 Dubai Industrial Strategy in 2016 and the Dubai Health Experience (DHX) in 2018. The former focuses on promoting the country as a worldwide platform for sustainable, knowledge-based, and innovation-focused firms. The latter entails expanding its healthcare facilities and improving patient experience through international patient departments.

Two years later, the UAE Ministry of Health announced plans to establish 34 local pharmaceutical production plants, which will support the growth of the sector. From a market value of AED 9.5 billion, the pharmaceutical industry is projected to be worth AED 25 billion by 2025.

Healthcare Marketing in the UAE

The face of healthcare marketing has changed dramatically over the last several years. Like many industries, it has been influenced by the global online marketplace. People used to visit nearby facilities for their healthcare needs but today, patients are more likely to look for a healthcare facility’s website or online presence before moving forward with an in-person visit.

In response to this development, medical tourism agencies and healthcare providers in the UAE are focusing on their websites and online marketing tactics to reach medical tourists from around the world. Since healthcare marketing is different from selling consumer goods and services, it requires a different and specialized approach.

Medical tourism organizations must establish a high level of credibility through industry certifications, trust symbols, and targeted content that highlights their facilities, professional competencies, and a seamless online experience.

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Conclusion

The UAE medical tourism market is rapidly expanding. Since much of the marketing takes place online, medical tourism agencies and healthcare providers need to provide the reassurance, credibility, and professional image that patients are looking for.

Although the UAE government’s promotion of health tourism is encouraging, patients traveling abroad for medical care are looking to work with reliable and trustworthy organizations. When potential clients see industry certifications and trust symbols like the Certified Medical Travel Agent logo and seals from world-renowned hospitals on your website, they provide reassurance that an organization and its services are legitimate and have been vetted by a third party. They lend your online presence greater credibility and set you apart from competitors.

If you’re a healthcare provider or health tourism agency, Medical Tourism Business can help you with digital marketing, certification, contractual agreements, website design, and other global healthcare services.