Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 11 December 2019

UAE investors to deploy billions in health care and education technology

Foundation Holdings, a global investment firm, is looking to deploy Dh2 billion over the next five years across the GCC and India.
Moorfields Hospital recently tied up with Google to produce VR glasses that have an eye test built in. Courtesy Moorfields Hospital
Moorfields Hospital recently tied up with Google to produce VR glasses that have an eye test built in. Courtesy Moorfields Hospital

Billions of dirhams are set to be deployed in the UAE and wider region as investors search for home-grown technology and innovation across traditionally defensive sectors such as health care and education.

Foundation Holdings, a global investment firm, is looking to deploy Dh2 billion over the next five years across the GCC and India focused on “business building” in the healthcare, education and consumer sectors.

“We are in the golden age of health care,” said Abhishek Sharma, the founder and chief executive of Foundation Holdings, which is targeting businesses that require innovation and disruption.

“It took 4 million years to extend life [expectancy] by 11 years and 14 years to extend life [expectancy] by 39 years. Health care is a boom business.

Moorfields Hospital, the world-recognised eye specialists, recently tied up with Google. They now produce VR glasses that have an eye test built in – no optician needed – and Google believes it could cure blindness in eight years. There are [similar] opportunities in the health care and education sectors.”

Foundation Holdings has tied up with New York’s Rothschild Capital Partners, a long-term investor interested in emerging markets and with a track record of investing in health care and technology. The strategic partnership is part of an effort to bring more smart western capital to the GCC and India.

And Mohamed Alabbar, the chairman of Emaar Properties, said last week that he expects to announce a number of deals in health care, education and music within two months as part of a US$1bn technology-foc­used fund.

“Investments in the technol­ogy sector can insulate the country and the region when the oil runs out,” said Mr Alabbar.

“I see it as my duty to support an ecosystem that promotes businesses and enhances lives. We need jobs and we need a future … technology can provide both of those.

“There are 350 million people in the Mena region and we own nothing when it comes to technology – I believe we should change that.”

The lack of access to technology and investment in the region’s digital infrastructure needs to be addressed to support these efforts, according to Facebook.

“Half of the Mena region is still unconnected to the internet,” said Jonathan Labin, the managing director of Facebook Middle East, North Africa and Paki­stan.

“While there are many arenas for investment and returns, the basics need to be addressed in a lot of territories if you want the technology to flourish. There are many people that are still on a 2G network and they need a solution and a plan to enable them to join the technology revolution.”

ascott@thenational.ae

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Updated: December 4, 2016 04:00 AM

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