DUBAI– Contracts for new medical facilities across the GCC are expected to reach USD 9.53 billion by the end of 2014 – a 25 percent increase on 2013.
Dubai plans to attract 500,000 patients for treatment by 2020 as part of its drive to become a centre for medical excellence in the region and bring a new stream of visitor revenue, according to the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).To cater for these patients, the DHA said,18 private and four public hospitals will be built over the next few years.
The UAE has doubled its healthcare budget since 2007 and currently ranks among the top 20 destinations for medical tourism. The country spends 3.3 percent of its GDP on healthcare,the third highest in the GCC. According to Alpen Capital Investment Banking, the UAE’s medical tourism sector drew revenue of USD 1.69 billion in 2013.
Visa rules in the UAE were changed to help encourage medical tourism, simplifying the process for patients to access the country. Dubai Tourism and Marketing believes this market could be worth as much as USD 30 million a year.
“The UAE spends an estimated USD 2 billion a year to send patients abroad for treatment,” said Andy White, Group Event Director of The Big 5, the Middle East’s largest building and construction exhibition. “Gulf countries are spending heavily to ensure they can provide the best treatment inside their country and, in the case of the UAE, encourage medical tourists.”
“Rising populations and changing demographics are creating a need for more specialised facilities, and in turn driving demand for more buildings. This is providing yet another opportunity for the region’s construction sector, and firms are getting the chance to work on some of the most exciting healthcare projects,” White added.
Saudi Arabia is among the GCC countries forecasted to triple healthcare expenditure across the region, according to Frost & Sullivan. The Kingdom is spending more than USD 23 billion improving its hospitals and medical facilities. One of the most high-profile projects is the USD 1.7 billion King Abdullah Medical City in Makkah that will have 1,500 beds in total, 500 of which are allotted for specialist referrals.
In Kuwait, the Ministry of Health has awarded local company Sayed Hamid Behbehani & Sons the construction contract for the Farwaniya Hospital expansion. The USD 938 million project involves the construction of three buildings making up a new hospital, including an ER facility. Kuwait is also investing in new facilities, including the USD 1.26 billion New Jahra hospital project, currently under tender for construction.
Thousands of construction professionals involved in the development of healthcare facilities will converge in Dubai at The Big 5 building and construction exhibition.
Participants will have access to information and products vital to the successful delivery of these medical projects, including insights from key experts in the industry presenting at conferences and workshops.
‘Effective cost control in construction projects’ will be presented by Reem Murad, Cost Control Manager at Arabtec, whose projects include Al Ain Hospital and Al Ahalia Hospital.
Brett Patrick, Technical Manager, Ramboll Façades, who has worked on high profile healthcare developments such as Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and King Saud Medical City in Riyadh, will deliver a workshop on high-performance façades from design through delivery.
The Big 5 runs from 17 – 20 November at the Dubai World Trade Centre and is open from 11:00am to 7:00pm daily.