ABU DHABI // The UAE has authorised a US-based medical group to promote the country as a destination for medical tourism. The Government signed the agreement with the Medical Tourism Association (MTA), a Florida-based non-profit group made up of hospitals, insurance companies and healthcare providers that opened an office in Dubai Healthcare City last July. It was signed by Humaid Mohammed Obaid al Qattami, Minister of Health, and Jonathan Edelheit, the president of the MTA.
Research produced last year by the UK and Ireland office of the Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing suggested that the emirate would attract more than 11 million medical tourists between last summer and 2010, in part because of the relatively low cost of health care in the UAE and the lack of long waiting lists compared to other countries. At the time, the director of the department, Ian Scott, said: "Excellence in health care is a global concern and medical tourism is a booming industry worldwide."
Since 2000, 16 hospitals in the UAE have gained accreditation to treat medical tourists by the US-based Joint Commission International, one of the largest accreditation bodies in the world. The latest to be accredited is Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi. In November, the Ministry of Health established a committee to examine how to attract more medical tourists and build an industry that would generate more income.