Dubai is set to be the next big health tourism destination, with the emirate’s high vaccination rate boosting visitors’ confidence, a top health official has said.
“That is going to be the next big draw to Dubai. The UAE is the world’s most vaccinated country. With the world-class health infrastructure we have, people will look at Dubai as the next big destination for health tourism,” Dr Marwan Al Mulla, CEO of the Health Regulation Sector at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), told Khaleej Times in an exclusive interview.
The UAE has now overtaken Israel and became the most vaccinated country in the world. As on Friday, the Emirates has administered over 13.2 million vaccine doses.
Dr Marwan said Dubai’s track record in dealing with Covid will encourage people to travel to the emirate not just for tourism but to seek quality healthcare.
“We are looking at markets like India, West Africa, Russia and even Europe for medical tourism. Our healthcare infrastructure has only strengthened after Covid-19.”
He said Dubai has a total of 40,000 licensed healthcare professionals in the public and private sector and the emirate is ready to offer elective health and wellness treatments to visitors.
With a government strategy to promote Dubai as a global medical hub and an increased investment in the health sector, the emirate is expected to attract 500,000 medical tourists this year, as per a study by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In 2018, the city received about 337,000 medical tourists. Orthopaedics, sports medicine, dermatology and skin care, dentistry and fertility treatment are the top specialities attracting health tourists to Dubai.
A report by Euromonitor International forecasts UAE’s medical tourism revenues to touch Dh19 billion by 2023.
Recently, the DHA has launched the Dubai Health Experience (DXH), an online portal where visitors can book appointments with doctors and plan their medical itineraries.
Dr Marwan said that since Dubai is relying a “lot on tourism” — whether it is health or business tourism — it cannot afford a lockdown.
“We believe that the burden of the diseases should not be more than the burden of the treatment. Dubai is a very good example that we can control and contain the disease but at the same time allow business to flourish and continue. Otherwise, it will create a huge financial impact on all populations.”
“Covid will continue with mutations. We need to take precautionary measures and move on,” he added.
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