As one of the most advanced and dynamic markets in the Middle East, the UAE already has a strong healthcare infrastructure and is quickly adding clinical research and manufacturing capabilities. Leveraging this world-class healthcare infrastructure to make the UAE into a regional healthcare innovation hub with medical tourism and medical-grade logistics is a top priority for the UAE.

The UAE healthcare sector has expanded to meet both the evolving needs of the UAE’s 11 million population and the establishment of Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic-branded hospitals in the UAE that positions the nation to become a regional medical tourism hub for specialty treatments that are not available elsewhere.

The World Health Organization has determined that a third of the adults in the UAE are obese, and one out of five people live with diabetes or pre-diabetes. As the incidence of lifestyle diseases increases, these populations, supported by relatively high levels of income, continue to demand greater quality of healthcare. The government has focused on developing a healthcare infrastructure to address this demand.

Both federal and emirate-level governments regulate healthcare in the UAE. The most important federal regulatory authority in the UAE healthcare sector is the Ministry of Health and Prevention. Government commitment to the healthcare sector is one of the key drivers of growth within the UAE’s healthcare market, particularly given that public spending accounts for over two-thirds of overall healthcare expenditure. In the 2022 federal budget, a total of $17.18 billion (AED 63.066 billion) was approved for public spending out of which 7.6% is dedicated to healthcare. In addition, there are dedicated healthcare budgets overseen by the Dubai Health Authority and the Abu Dhabi Department of Health.

The COVID-19 pandemic led the UAE to redouble its commitment to investing in healthcare based on the success of a large-scale vaccine clinical trial and establishment of a vaccine distribution hub for the whole region. The UAE government quickly took precautionary health measures after the breakout of COVID-19 in January 2020. The robust efforts of the UAE’s leadership resulted in the UAE being globally ranked as one of the top countries, and the highest in the Arab world, in terms of its COVID-19 response.

The government is already building national capacities to fight future pandemics which include efforts to develop vaccines and medicines, digital immunization IDs, and a new strategy focusing on supply chains. A state-of-the-art vaccine fill and finish manufacturing facility is near completion and a biosimilars manufacturing plant is planned. The Ministry of Health aims to develop the sector by focusing more on telemedicine and digital medicine.

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