New Health Tourism Forum in Dubai embraces trend

Dubai’s strong foundation will help achieve the goal of attracting more than 500,000 health tourists by 2020, says Al Qutami

Dubai: Hundreds of delegates assembled for the inaugural edition of the two-day Dubai International Health Tourism (DIHTF) forum on Tuesday.

More than 700 delegates heard that medical tourism is fast becoming a growth sector and forecast to grow by 13 per cent in the next five years in Dubai and expected to surpass Dh2.6 billion in revenues by 2029.

Humaid Al Qutami, Director General and Chairman of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) said there is great optimism in the medical tourism sector for the years ahead.

“We aim to make Dubai the hub for medical tourism and to stimulate health tourism locally, regionally and globally and contribute to its development based on the capabilities of our city. Dubai’s diverse opportunities, exceptional facilities, and encouraging incentives supports the growth of investments in the private health sector and the basis of a healthy and happy society,” said Al Qutami.

Held under the theme ‘Reimaging Experience’ healthcare travel, the two-day forum was inaugurated by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 
Crown Prince of Dubai.

The event’s first edition brought together experts in medicine, health and tourism to discuss the latest trends in the industry.

Main threads running through the forum include methods to ensure patient protection, patient insurance, ways to enhance patient experience and strategies to create an overall environment that fosters medical tourism.

The forum also launched the very first Dubai International Health Tourism award featuring four categories.

The categories include most exceptional medical tourism initiative, most exceptional health prevention and treatment initiative, most exceptional patient care and customer service initiative and the most exceptional patient safety and quality of health services initiative.

Al Qutami explained Dubai’s strong foundation will help achieve the goal of attracting more than 500,000 health tourists by 2020. Noting a 9.5 per cent increase in the number of medical tourists in 2016, Dubai also aims to have 40,000 specialists by 2020.

“Dubai’s strategic location, diagnostic and treatment services and competitive packages and infrastructure places the city on the right path of becoming a favourite destination for medical tourism,” said Dr Laila Al Marzouqi, Director of Medical Tourism Council, following the opening ceremony.

She added that Dubai has won many awards including the ‘Highly Recommended Destination of the Year,’ for medical tourism award by the International Medical Travel Journal.

Dubai recorded a total of 326,649 international medical tourists in 2016, of which, 37 per cent are patients from Asia, 31 per cent are patients from the GCC, 15 per cent from Europe, and 17 per cent from other countries.

Al Marzouqi further referred to the Dubai Health Experience (DHX) project launched in 2016 as one of the initiatives in line with Dubai’s future vision for medical tourism.

Through the online portal, a tourist seeking treatment abroad will be able to plan their trip and learn about the medical services available such as surgery, orthopaedics, ophthalmology, dental treatments and specialised tests, to name a few.

“The Dubai Health tourism’s electric platform is regarded as the first of its kind in the region. It provides a one-stop electronic portal for medical tourists to book tickets and access comprehensive information about the health care services, visas, hotel and other touristic services and packages, said Al Marzouqi.

The website, which offers 400 healthcare packages, saw a total of 10,000 monthly visitors. It will also be supported by social media channels to promote medical tourism, in collaboration with 26 healthcare facilities.

The forum will continue to focus on six main areas on its second day; the future of health tourism, health travel metrics and reliable global index, patient-centred care, impact of technological innovation on health tourism, medical tourism insurance, areas of health tourism experience and role of social media influencers in the health tourism industry.

The forum will see discussions between 40 regional and international experts through eight interactive and 23 specialised lectures.


– Medical tourism in Dubai to increase by 13 per cent in the next five years

– Dubai is expecting to surpass Dh2.6 billion in revenues made from medical tourism by 20 per cent in 2020.

– Since the launch in 2014 of the Dubai tourism strategy, 630,831 medical tourists visited Dubai’s 26 hospitals, out of which 332,472 came from within the UAE and 298,359 
(46 per cent) came from abroad.

– A grand total of Dh1,004,930,535 in revenues was made from medical tourists abroad in 2015 and is expected to even the 2020 target of 2.6 billion by 20 per cent.


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