Healthcare is a booming sector, with a mix of public and private providers – and plenty of opportunities for the latter. You need not be a huge primary care provider to benefit, as healthcare requires a huge and diverse network of suppliers, partners and related industries to thrive.

Market size
The UAE spent an estimated $11.3 billion on healthcare in 2011 and $16.8 billion in 2013, the most recent years for which figures are available. Approximately 70% of this is government expenditure.
Average spend per person is $1200 a year, ranking the UAE among the top 20 countries in the world for healthcare spending per capita.

Service provision by Emirate (2014 figures):

  • Abu Dhabi: 39 hospitals (14 government, 25 private, 26 JCI accredited), with 4,226 beds (1 bed per 638 members of the population).

  • Dubai: 38 hospitals (6 government, 32 private, 20 JCI accredited), with 3857 beds (1 bed per 532).

  • Sharjah: 15 hospitals (5 government, 10 private, 1 JCI accredited), with 898 beds (1 bed per 1670).

  • Ras Al Khaimah: 5 hospitals (4 government, 1 private, 1 JCI accredited), with 562 beds (1 bed per 533).

  • Ajman: 3 hospitals (1 government, 2 private, 1 JCI accredited), with 189 beds (1 bed per 1269).

  • Fujairah: 3 hospitals (2 government, 1 private), with 358 beds (1 bed per 558).

  • Umm Al Quwain: 1 government hospital, with 165 beds (1 bed per 606).

Sources: Dubai Health Authority, Health Authority Abu Dhabi, UAE Ministry of Health

It’s estimated UAE healthcare spending will expand by 13.1% annually in the next four years. Source: Alpen Capital. However the number of hospital beds is set to grow by just 1.7% by 2018.

The pharmaceutical industry is expected to grow at 14.5% (Compound Annual Growth Rate), reaching $3.58 billion by 2019.
Potential growth factors: Growing immigration; high birth rates; increases in life expectancy; rapidly shifting epidemiology profile; rising incidences of non-communicable diseases; shortage of healthcare workers; low insurance penetration rates. Source: PwC

Potential growth areas for investors/firms: There is a growing demand for everything a hospital needs as a service, from medical supplies and cleaning, to hospital management, technology, consulting, electronic medical record systems and telemedicine. Providing skilled workers is a particular opportunity. Source: TVM Capital
Secondary sectors such as construction and marketing will also benefit, as more facilities are built and competition increases. Supply chain management is also a growth area.

Risk factors

  • The cost of healthcare in the UAE is growing at an estimated annual rate of 9.3% above inflation. This is a result of more expensive medical technologies and greater competition between hospitals over wages. Source: Towers Watson
  • There are gaps in critical areas such as women’s care, oncology, paediatrics and diabetes care. Patients tend to travel outside the UAE to places such as India, Thailand, Singapore and North America for these. This transfer of capital is significant: it’s estimated Emiratis travelling abroad for treatment spend roughly $250,000 per visit. Source: International Medical Travel Journal
  • In 2012 (most recent year for data), 15% of doctors and 13% of nurses left their positions in the UAE, increasing demand on recruitment.


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