Adopting a healthy and active lifestyle has become a personal mantra for many people these days regardless of their age, nationality, and cultural background. In Dubai, jogging along Lamer Beach and group yoga classes in Jumeirah beach, among others, are now a common sight as citizens and residents alike now give top priority to their physical, emotional, and mental wellness.
This global lifestyle shift has also opened up considerable opportunities in wellness tourism industry. Health tourism by itself refers to individuals traveling to a place outside their home countries to seek cost-efficient but world-class treatments for their medical issues, while wellness tourism describes those who are availing of holistic health treatments overseas for better quality of life and higher life satisfaction level.
A trillion-dollar industry, worldwide wellness was valued USD 4.2 trillion in 2017 as per the report of the Global Wellness Institute. In the Middle East, the UAE is at the forefront of the regional wellness tourism market, which contributes 12 to 13 per cent to the approximately USD 36-billion local tourism community. As per Global Wellness Institute there are two types of wellness travelers. The “primary” variety is a traveler whose trip/destination choice is primarily motivated by wellness. The “secondary” is a traveler who participates in wellness experiences on any leisure or business trip. The secondary category visitors mostly splurge on relaxation and rejuvenation experiences in form of meditation, yoga retreats, weight loss and detox programs, health checkups, sauna therapies, beauty traditions to cosmetic procedures such as anti-aging treatments.
The segment’s potential for growth is enormous as more and more people around the globe are turning to well-being retreats to jumpstart their lives and start fresh. In 2016, Dubai Health Experience (DXH) brand was created by Dubai Health Authority (DHA) to secure the emirate’s global status as the medical tourism destination of choice in the Middle East region. The move signified the Dubai Government’s seriousness in boosting its health tourism industry—widely seen as a critical element to the emirate’s economic diversification efforts.
Tourists coming from around GCC countries can simply come to Dubai for wellness weekends stays offered by luxury clinics, Wellness centers to relax, refresh, reenergize and rejuvenate. These holistic wellness programmes are developed to focus on specific areas of mental and physical wellbeing. From Detox and Cleanse to Yoga and Mindfulness, Emotional Wellness to Weight Management, Spa Wellness to Fitness, the wellbeing experts tailor each package to suit individual requirements.
Linda Abdullah, Consultant, Health Tourism Department, Dubai Health Authority, said: “Wellness has undoubtedly become key driver of UAE’s growing health tourism industry and it is not surprising considering what we have to offer in terms of world-class spas, wellness centres, and health facilities. The Dubai Medical tourism strategy approved by the H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, in 2014 further adds momentum to these efforts. Dubai’s focus and determination to continuously enhance and support the sector’s growth is reflected by initiatives such as the launch of the #DXHWellness campaign.”
Facilities like Al Zahra Hospital house a dedicated wellness center for health tourists that offer quick health checkup packages across the full medical spectrum. The center uses latest diagnosis and medical screening technologies. The reports are provided in easy to understand format along with a consultation with dedicated medical and wellness team.
DNA Health center one of the luxury medical clinic in Dubai offers for its international visitors 3/ 4 nights of Detox and Rejuvenation Package, Beating Diabetes Package and advanced weight loss packages along combined with stay at Jumeirah Al Qasr. The retreat programmes at Rayya Wellness Center, a unique beachfront wellbeing resort on the shores of Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah that offers range in duration from full board 24 hours, three to fourteen nights, with longer or shorter packages. In addition to wellness retreats for women and men, they offer a selection of specially developed programmes for children. These programs are individualized with support of certified clinical professional teams and include post follow up programs as well.
Dr Nasr Al-Jafari, Medical Director, DNA Health Clinic, said: “As we are leading extremely demanding lives, a vacation often becomes the only time we get to truly address our health and well-being. This is driving the shift in health tourism trends; away from traditional spa-like activities, to more integrated and alternative medical solutions. At DNA, we believe that each person is unique in their health blueprint, so rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, we use advanced analytics and ‘precision medicine’ to customize interventions designed to achieve a state of wellness. Most popular services we offer include weight loss, detoxification, gut health, anti-aging and child development. Furthermore, to increase awareness and education through community initiatives, we work closely with a number of F&B and gym brands to create novel integrated wellness solutions.”
Dr. Hafeel Ambalath, Healers Clinic, said: “Dubai’s expertise in seamlessly integrating practices and concepts under strong regulatory frameworks that ensure strict quality control has played a major role in furthering its reputation as a wellness destination. Healers’ Clinic’s philosophies are deeply rooted in holistic health care, uniquely blending eastern wisdom and western science. Beauty care with holistic elements and detailed health checks are our most popular services, widely sought after by health tourists from the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe. Our initiatives are entirely customized for individuals and families who seek out our services and our efforts revolve around them for long-term. So, most of them are a lifetime buy-in.”
Dubai via its popular events like Dubai Fitness Challenge, Yoga Dubai festival, Spartan Hatta Race, Sandstorm Marmoum, Dubai Holding Women's Run, Health checkup camps and many more similar encouraging its own residents to engage in various fitness and wellness related activities.
The Dubai Fitness Challenge launched by H.H. Shaikh Hamdan stands out thanks to its growing participation every year. The latest edition of the Challenge recorded a 34 per cent increase in participation compared to 2017, with participation from 1,053,100 people to collectively make Dubai the most active city in the world.