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Dubai aims to become regional and global hub for health tourism

DUBAI — Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, on Sunday called for stronger public-private partnership to fast-track th

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DUBAI — Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, on Sunday called for stronger public-private partnership to fast-track the emirate’s new health tourism initiative.

Shaikh Hamdan said the initiative, presented to him by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), would establish the city as a regional and global hub for health tourism, and also create several new investment and job opportunities.

The strategy, which is expected to give a further fillip to Dubai’s Dh16 billion tourism sector, seeks to build on the core strengths of Dubai, including its existing network of advanced healthcare facilities, modern infrastructure, large pool of skilled healthcare professionals and strong credentials in the tourism sector.

As part of the move, the services of the Dubai Health Authority, the Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing, the General Directorate of Residency & Foreign Affairs and leading private sector healthcare and tourism providers will be integrated to create a unique collaborative model to drive health tourism in Dubai.

The Crown Prince discussed the initiatives with directors of various departments and local institutions at his Majlis at the Nad Al Sheba district in Dubai.

Present at the meeting were Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister for Cabinet Affairs; Mohammed Ali Alabbar, Chairman, Emaar Properties; Major General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Director General of Dubai Naturalisation and Residence; Qadhi Saeed Al Murooshid, Director General of DHA; Khalid Ahmed bin Sulayem, Director General, Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing; and Saif bin Markhan, Director General of Dubai Crown Prince’s Office.

Al Murooshid said a special task force is being set up to roll out the plan. “We conducted extensive market research in formulating the initiative, which is in line with the Dubai Strategic Plan 2015. We have now developed a formal roadmap and action plan to implement it.”

The plan includes a bouquet of healthcare related services, including modern medicine, rejuvenation treatments and holistic well-being therapies, all to be provided by experienced professionals.

Dubai welcomed more than 9.3 million visitors in 2011, generating tourism revenues of Dh16 billion. Tourist arrivals to the city are projected to grow at an annual 7.2 per cent through 2015. Health tourism in the city is expected to generate Dh6.1 billion by the end of this year. Dubai’s private sector investment in the healthcare sector surged 12 per cent to $8 billion in 2010-11.

Al Murooshid said the health tourism drive would greatly benefit GCC citizens, who travel abroad for healthcare services, spending nearly Dh92 billion annually.

“We want to draw not only visitors from the GCC region to benefit from the world-class medical care that Dubai offers, but also tourists from our traditional feeder markets who can now have value-added healthcare and well-being choices in the city,” said Al Murooshid.

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