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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Dubai in a healthy place to compete for health tourists

Report sees 'significant' potential for growth in an index of global cities

Doctors treat a patient in the trauma centre at Rashid hospital. Jaime Puebla / The National
Doctors treat a patient in the trauma centre at Rashid hospital. Jaime Puebla / The National

Dubai has huge potential as a world class centre for medical tourism, according to a new report that pits it against other major global cities.

The demand for healthcare services has more than matched population growth for a decade, reveals the Hub Report from property consultants Knight Frank.

Even so, Dubai still ranks at the low end of a league table that compares eight leading medical tourism destinations in terms the number of hospital beds for every 1,000 people.

France, the leader, has six times the number of hospital beds for its population compared to Dubai, while Hong Kong has five and Australia nearly three.

Dubai now has two beds for every thousand of the population, an increase of nearly 14 per cent since 2012, thanks to the support of the Government in “creating an investor friendly environment”, Knight Frank concludes.

It adds: “Comparing Dubai in terms of number of beds…we see that there is significant potential for growth in the healthcare centre.”

Last month, a major healthcare industry report warned that the UAE needs better cancer facilities and far more nurses.

As a destination for health tourism, Dubai ranks first in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) 16th in the world.

Two years ago, it attracted 325,000 medical tourists every year. By 2020 this is expected to rise to half a million.

Market demand will increasingly be for specialist services, the Hub report says, with a shortage of specialists in areas like diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.

The medical Hub report is just one of a series to be released by Frank Knight in 2018, with the aim of benchmarking Dubai against seven other key global cities in key sectors.

They include tourism, education, financial services, manufacturing, and property, while the cities covered are Sydney, Shanghai, New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore.

At an average of US$194, though, Dubai’s room is second only to New York, the costliest at $259 per night.

When it comes to registering a new business, Dubai takes an average of eight days, more than most of its rivals, but still much easier than China, where it takes 23 days.

For its quality of education, Dubai is second only to Singapore.

In key education subjects like maths, science and reading, Dubai ranks lowest in the group, while its tertiary education enrolment rate, at 16.8 percent, compares with nearly 95 per cent in the US.

Those looking to buy property and with a million dollars to spend will find that it buys them 138 square metres in Dubai, compared with 28 square metres in London and just 19 square metres in Hong Kong.

Knight Frank says that Dubai’s "transformation and development as a city over the last decade is certainly unmatched on a regional basis and arguably even on a global basis".

“Overall, Dubai’s status as a global hub with only continue to strengthen,” it concludes.

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