The healthcare sector in the United Arab Emirates is one of the most rapidly evolving in the region with the highest number of JCI accredited hospitals in the Middle East.
By the end of 2020 there were 162 hospitals in the UAE, with this number continuing to grow.
What is driving this growth and what does this mean for highly skilled doctors looking for new opportunities?
Growing population and economy
Vision and Leadership
The remarkable development in the UAE’s healthcare system has been driven by the government’s vision and strategic planning to provide access to high quality medical services that are on par with international standards for all citizens and residents. This has been backed by investment from both the public and private sector.
Mandatory health insurance
Medical insurance is compulsory for all residents in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, with this requirement being extended to other emirates in the UAE from 2023. Health insurance coverage is provided by the government for Emirati citizens and employers are mandated to provide cover for their expat employees.
Prevalence of chronic diseases
As in other parts of the world, the prevalence of chronic and lifestyle-related diseases, such as diabetes and obesity is increasing. Despite efforts to promote prevention and healthier lifestyles, this trend is set to lead to increased demand for health services for the foreseeable future.
The UAE is establishing itself as a popular destination for patients seeking high quality, accessible medical care. The Medical Tourism Index 2020-21 ranked Dubai as the top destination in the Middle East and in 6th place globally, with Abu Dhabi also in 9th place. Medical tourism portals in the UAE, such as Dubai Health Experience (DXH, bring together a consortium of recognised, quality-assured healthcare providers and facilitators to optimise the medical tourism experience.
Digital innovation for health
Digital innovation is the key driver of growth in the UAE’s healthcare sector. This is demonstrated by a variety of initiatives such as virtual care platforms, robotic-assisted surgeries, 3D printing, Artificial Intelligence, Genome Sequencing and Precision Medicine.
Medical education and research
There has been significant investment to expand medical education and training, with a growing number of medical colleges and nursing schools. Collaborative partnerships with both public and private organisations are advancing medical and specialist training. The UAE provides a supportive environment for research and is fast becoming a regional hub for conferences and events. The establishment of the new Dubai Academic Health Corporation is part of the broader strategy to advance research.
What does the growth of the UAE healthcare sector mean for you?
There are opportunities within the dynamic and growing UAE healthcare sector for doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals with the right qualifications, skills and experience, with some specialities particularly in demand. Western-trained doctors, especially those with advanced fellowships post-specialisation are sought after to bring new skills and techniques to the region.