LONDON // As much as half of the estimated US$80 billion in annual government spending on health care in the Arab world is going to waste due to widespread inefficiencies, a Dubai health official says.

A plague of issues such as the over-prescription of drugs and needless medical tests are costing the sector dearly, according to Dr Haidar Al Yousuf, the head of funding at the Dubai Health Authority.

“In our region … 50 per cent of the money we spend on health, due to inefficiency, is not properly utilised,” he said. “I don’t think we need to pump more money into the health system – we just need to use that money more efficiently and ensure that it goes to the right place.”

In the United States, a report by the non-profit Institute of Medicine estimated that 30 per cent of total healthcare spending in 2009 was wasted, amounting to total losses of $750bn.

But the proportion of spending wasted in some Middle East and North Africa (Mena) countries could be much higher, Dr Al Yousuf said.

“A lot of doctors prescribe a lot of medication – they order a lot of tests, but there is no matching of what is actually needed by the patient and what is being done,” he said.

He said the problem of inefficient healthcare spending was far less pronounced in markets such as Dubai, which introduced compulsory health insurance in 2014, and Abu Dhabi, which made health insurance mandatory for all employees in 2005.

Such systems are preferable to public-sector “block-budget” funding, prevalent in much of the wider region, where top-line spending levels are allocated by governments, Dr Yousuf said. “In general, these large public systems … tend to be extremely inefficient, especially for healthcare.”

Dr Yousuf was speaking at last week’ Telegraph Middle East Congress in London, and was part of a discussion moderated by Mohammed Al Otaiba, the editor-in-chief of The National.

Fellow panellists noted the importance of the private sector in building the Arab world’s future infrastructure needs, including in the healthcare sector.

The Middle East and North Africa’s total healthcare spending is estimated to be $125bn this year, according to Al Masah Capital, a Dubai-based alternative-investment management firm. Government spending is estimated to account for 64 per cent – or $80bn – of the total market, with private-sector healthcare spending making up the rest.

The role of the private sector is expected to increase in the Mena market, according to Al Masah Capital. It forecasts that the private-sector healthcare market will be worth $61bn in 2020, more than double its size in 2011.

Dr Yousuf said he expects more governments in the region to move to insurance-led healthcare systems.

“We see the whole region moving away from those block-budget funding models into much more accountable health-financing systems, like health insurance and social insurance,” he said.

Political and economic leaders convened in London during last week’s conference. Speakers included Reem Al Hashimy, the UAE Minister of State; Saudi Arabia’s Prince Saud bin Khalid Al Faisal; Hany Kadry Dimian, Egypt’s finance minister; and Boris Johnson, the London mayor.

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LONDON // Egypt will not rely on further aid from the Gulf unless its already shaky economy worsens, a senior minister told The National, as the country looks to court billions of dollars in foreign investment from Europe.

Since the removal in 2013 of the Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have given Egypt more than US$12 billion.

But Hany Kadry Dimian, Egypt’s minister of finance, said at the Middle East Congress in London yesterday that the country would not seek further aid as long as the economic recovery keeps on track. The National was a media partner for the event.

“We are building this economy on structural reforms, and not to continue on the aid … our strategy is to reform the economy and put it on the right track and to restore the imbalances,” he said.

“Having said that, the Egyptian government does not expect that – should Egypt run into difficulty – the Gulf will stand still and not give.”

Mr Dimian said aid from the Gulf had given a “fantastic” boost to the Egyptian economy, but that Egypt was now concentrating on restructuring its economy, attracting foreign investment and building several “megaprojects” such as the additional Suez Canal channel and a new capital city outside Cairo.

At least $30bn in investment opportunities is expected to be showcased at an economic conference to be held next month in Sharm El Sheikh.

Mr Dimian, speaking yesterday at the Telegraph Middle East Congress in London, said he expects several investment deals from the UK to be sealed at that conference.

“At the Sharm El Sheikh economic conference we will hear good news about new investors coming from the UK,” he told delegates.

“The GCC is among the regions that have the biggest surpluses in the world still, despite the decline in international oil prices. But I expect that the absolute biggest investments will be coming from Europe, and specifically coming from the UK.”

The British are already the biggest foreign investors in Egypt and are expected to remain so for at least the next decade, the minister added.

But Egypt’s infrastructure needs – ranging from the electricity sector to football stadiums – will also provide opportunities farther afield, he added.

“We have received plenty of investors of coming from different regions – from the UK, China, the US, and the Gulf states of course. And there is an appetite that is growing.”

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Arabian Gulf investors are set to snap up more prime London real estate, according to its mayor Boris Johnson, who envisages “gigantic spacecraft full of bullion” continuing to land on his city despite painfully low oil prices.

Mr Johnson, who is known for his colourful turns of phrase, said investors from the region were considering further purchases in the area used for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Qatari Diar, the Gulf state’s investment arm, and a UK-based property firm already jointly own 1,400 flats at the Olympic Village – bought for a knockdown price of £557 million (Dh3.17 billion) in 2011, in a move that caused some controversy.

Further Gulf investments in the Olympics area are in the pipeline, Mr Johnson told The National on the sidelines of the Telegraph Middle East Congress in London. “You might see some more on the Olympic Park,” he said. “There’s lots going on.”

Qatar is one of the most prominent foreign investors in London, owning swaths of prime real estate across the city. It owns The Shard building – the tallest in the capital – the department store Harrods, and has just sealed a deal to buy the Canary Wharf financial district for £2.6bn.

Mr Johnson told the conference – where Mohammed Al Otaiba, editor-in-chief of The National, moderated a panel discussion on Thursday – that Gulf investment in London will continue despite oil prices having been cut in half.

“Relations between Britain and the Gulf go back more than 100 years,” he said. “Despite what’s happened to the oil price, there are still substantial sums of cash floating around the world, in sovereign wealth funds and elsewhere, which are looking for very good, safe places to land.”

And despite its geographical distance, London will keep its honorary position as a key part of the Gulf region, Mr Johnson added.

“I don’t see any other European capital, or any other global capital challenging London’s unofficial title as the ‘eighth emirate’,” he said.

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LONDON // Saudi Arabia’s plan to open its stock market to foreign investors is at an “advanced” stage, and the kingdom has already received substantial interest from overseas, said a senior economic leader. Prince Saud bin Khalid Al Faisal, the executive director of investment policy at the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, said he had consulted with Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority, and said the plan to open the Tadawul to large foreign investors is on track.

“It’s at very advanced stages, but there has not been a final date given,” he said.

“We’ve been getting an influx of investors who are interested in investing in the Saudi market. The comments we have been getting is that this interest stems from the Saudi market being one of the best-governed among the emerging markets.”

Saudi authorities said last summer that the stock market would open up to large foreign investors, saying that the move would take place in the first half of this year. But no date has been set. According to a report in August by Jadwa Investment, the move could inject up to US$50 billion into the market.

“Beyond the short term we believe that total foreign inflows could total between $40bn to $50bn, but this will only be the case if active investors feel there is value to be had in Saudi stocks,” it said.

Prince Saud, who gave the opening address at the Telegraph Middle East Congress in London, said that he expected general levels of foreign direct investment (FDI) to rise in the Arabian Gulf region. “In the past six years alone, the GCC states have attracted total FDI inflows of more than $237bn,” he said.

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LONDON // Egypt is weeks away from signing up a major Arabian Gulf-based property developer to spearhead the development of a Dh240 billion capital city the size of New Cairo, a senior minister said yesterday.

The Egyptian government will probably relocate to the new capital, which will be located east of Cairo and take 12 years to build.

Ashraf Salman, Egypt’s investment minster, said the city is set to get the green light at a conference being held next month in Sharm El Sheikh.

“We are talking to a master developer. A signature will take place by the conference, and after that the construction will begin,” he told The National.

Mr Salman declined to specify the name of the developer, citing a non-disclosure agreement, but confirmed that UAE parties have been involved in the negotiations.

Dubai-listed Emaar was recently linked to the construction of Egypt’s proposed new city. Egypt’s prime minister Ibrahim Mahlab, on a visit to the UAE this month, said the Dubai developer would play “a key role” in building the new capital city, according to state news agency Wam.

Emaar did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr Salman said the new city had not yet been named, and is currently in the “branding phase”. It is to be built on the road to the Ain Sokhna, to the east of Cairo towards the Suez area, and will be at least the size of New Cairo, which covers 70,000 acres.

“We’re talking a very big city. It is just the size of New Cairo itself … It is the ‘new New Cairo’,” the minister said.

It emerged last year that Egypt was considering building a new capital, and relocating government buildings, ministries and foreign embassies from central Cairo. But this is the first confirmation of the size and cost of the development, the timescale, and when it will get the go-ahead.

The Egyptian government will “most probably” be relocated to the new city, Mr Salman said. “It is a whole city, with shops, retail, new industrial areas, new commercial areas, the government buildings and cities, residential areas,” he said.

Mr Salman was speaking on the sidelines of the Telegraph Middle East Congress in London. He told delegates that Egypt’s new capital would be built and funded entirely by the private sector, proving that Egypt is “really committed to an open-market economy”.

“The government will incur zero cost in the city, and this will be totally developed, master planned and executed by a private sector company – a developer from the Gulf,” he said.

Egypt is expected to seek billions of dollars of foreign direct investment at next month’s donor conference in Sharm El Sheikh.

Opportunities across the energy, health, infrastructure, education, property and retail sectors will be presented at the event, Mr Salman said.

“We will be offering around 25 projects in different sectors, amounting to around US$30bn,” he said.

Deregulation of the electricity sector will also provide opportunities to outside investors, he added.

Arabian Gulf states have thrown their support – and wealth – behind Egypt since the overthrow of the former president Mohammed Morsi in 2013, with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait giving more than $12bn in aid and other assistance.

Karim Awad, the chief executive of EFG Hermes, said at the conference in London that job creation was now a major priority for Egypt.

“One of the things we would like to see from an economic perspective is the creation of sustainable job opportunities,” he said.

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LONDON // Egypt is weeks away from signing up a major Arabian Gulf-based property developer to spearhead the development of a Dh240 billion capital city the size of New Cairo, a senior minister said yesterday.

The Egyptian government will probably relocate to the new capital, which will be located east of Cairo and take 12 years to build.

Ashraf Salman, Egypt’s investment minster, said the city is set to get the green light at a conference being held next month in Sharm El Sheikh.

“We are talking to a master developer. A signature will take place by the conference, and after that the construction will begin,” he told The National.

Mr Salman declined to specify the name of the developer, citing a non-disclosure agreement, but confirmed that UAE parties have been involved in the negotiations.

Dubai-listed Emaar was recently linked to the construction of Egypt’s proposed new city. Egypt’s prime minister Ibrahim Mahlab, on a visit to the UAE this month, said the Dubai developer would play “a key role” in building the new capital city, according to state news agency Wam.

Emaar did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr Salman said the new city had not yet been named, and is currently in the “branding phase”. It is to be built on the road to the Ain Sokhna, to the east of Cairo towards the Suez area, and be at least the size of New Cairo, which spans 70,000 acres.

“We’re talking a very big city. It is just the size of New Cairo itself … It is the ‘new New Cairo’,” the minister said.

It emerged last year that Egypt was considering building a new capital, and relocating government buildings, ministries and foreign embassies from central Cairo. But this is the first confirmation of the size and cost of the development, the time-scale, and when it will get the go-ahead.

The Egyptian government will “most probably” be relocated to the new city, Mr Salman said. “It is a whole city, with shops, retail, new industrial areas, new commercial areas, the government buildings and cities, residential areas,” he said.

Mr Salman was speaking on the sidelines of the Telegraph Middle East Congress in London.

He told delegates that Egypt’s new capital would be built and funded entirely by the private sector, proving that Egypt is “really committed to an open-market economy”.

Mr Salman said: “The government will incur zero cost in the city, and this will be totally developed, master planned and executed by a private sector company – a developer from the Gulf.”

Egypt is expected to seek billions of dollars of foreign direct investment at next month’s donor conference in Sharm El Sheikh.

Opportunities across the energy, health, infrastructure, education, property and retail sectors will be presented at the event, Mr Salman said.

“We will be offering around 25 projects in different sectors, amount to around US$30bn,” he said.

Deregulation of the electricity sector will also provide opportunities to outside investors, he added.

Arabian Gulf states have thrown their support – and wealth – behind Egypt since the overthrow of the former president Mohammed Morsi in 2013, with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait giving more than $12bn in aid and other assistance.

Karim Awad, the chief executive of EFG Hermes, said at the conference in London that job creation was now a major priority for Egypt.

“One of the things we would like to see from an economic perspective is the creation of sustainable job opportunities,” he said.

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