Dubai // More than 11 million medical tourists can be expected between now and 2010, according to research from the UK. The tourists, drawn by the relatively low cost of health care in the emirate, are expected to spend Dh7 billion (US$1.9bn), says the UK and Ireland office of the Government of Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. "Diversification of the emirate's economy is key to its success in positioning itself as one of the world's leading destinations," said Ian Scott, the director of the office. "Excellence in health care is a global concern and medical tourism is a booming industry worldwide."
Most of the patients would be treated at Dubai Healthcare City, he said, where there were world-class medical professionals offering a variety of procedures, ranging from cosmetic to specialised surgery. In addition, there were no long waiting lists, which was attractive to patients from the UK. Although many procedures are free on the National Health Service, which yesterday celebrated its 60th anniversary, in some cases patients still have to wait months for treatment.Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) is a Dh6.7bn development which, when fully completed, will be the largest international medical centre between Europe and South East Asia.
The city within a city includes medical teaching institutions, private hospitals and clinics, pharmaceuticals offices and research centres, including the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Academic Medical Centre. This will showcase the latest advances in clinical care and provide educational resources for professionals within DHCC. The site also houses spas and rehabilitation centres, residential villas, apartments and five-star hotels, developed around an artificial lake where patients can recuperate.
"Dubai is pleased to have such a strong infrastructure in place, with top clinicians operating in highly specialised state-of-the-art facilities, to ensure that patient demand can be met and expectations exceeded at Healthcare City," said Mr Scott. The anticipated extra income from the influx of medical tourists is in line with the emirate's plans to diversify its economy, as outlined in the Strategic Plan 2015, announced last year by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.