The United Arab Emirates has established itself as one of the best medical tourism destinations in the world over the past years, thanks to international confidence in its health sector, which has succeeded in attracting major medical institutions of international prestige.
The country ranked first among GCC countries in best medical tourism destination globally according to the US-based Medical Tourism Association.
The ranking in the index is based on a variety of factors, the Association said, adding that these factors included the destination environment, patient experience, current levels of medical tourism, and the attractiveness of traditional tourism.
Meanwhile, Dubai maintained its advanced position as the first Arab destination for medical, based on the "Global Medical Tourism Index" issued by the International Health Care Research Center (IHRC).
The emirate ranked sixth in the world, within a list of 46 of the most unique international destinations, in a qualitative achievement that reaffirms its success in developing modern infrastructures and advanced medical facilities that enhance its competitive elements in providing Advanced healthcare services for travelers coming for treatment purposes from different parts of the world.
The UAE is at the forefront of many global indicators in the field of health, as in 2019 it ranked first in 7 global indicators, according to a report issued in 2020 by the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre.
Medical tourism proceeds in the UAE recorded AED12.1 billion in 2018, a growth rate of 5.5% compared to 2017, according to an analysis conducted by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry in mid-2019, which expects the continued growth of medical tourism proceeds in the UAE to AED19.5 billion by 2023, an average Cumulative annual growth of 10.7% for the next five years.
The UAE has launched many initiatives to attract medical tourism. For example, the Dubai Health Authority launched "Dubai Health Experience" as the world’s first medical tourism portal, offering visitors to the emirate comprehensive services at the click of a button.
The portal allows visitors to book medical procedures and take advantage of discounted air fairs, visa, medical insurance, hotels stays, leisure activities and more.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health Abu Dhabi (DoH) and Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, launched the Abu Dhabi Medical Tourism e-portal in 2018, a digital platform that provides visitors to Abu Dhabi with all medical offerings and healthcare facilities available throughout their visit.
The e-portal provides a list of 40 healthcare facilities included in the medical tourism network, all of which adhere to the requirements of DoH’s quality framework (JAWDA) programme, as well as more than 287 medical treatment packages from over 173 doctors across the Emirate.
Through the e-portal, users can also access medical tourism insurance packages, the first of its kind in the region, along with a wide range of touristic services such direct contact with healthcare providers, visa issuance, as well as booking appointments, hotels, transportation and other recreational activities.
The UAE ranked first globally in terms of number of accredited health facilities with 221 accredited hospitals, medical centres and health facilities, according to the results of the semi-annual report of the Joint Commission International (JCI) which identifies, measures, and shares best practices in quality and patient safety with the world.
The UAE also approved a policy of providing comprehensive health care for all citizens and residents alike, through its preventive and curative programmes, through the health services network at all levels, and providing health care on a global level as it is one of the 6 pillars of the UAE National Agenda 2021.
The draft health insurance law obligated the provision of health insurance to the citizen and resident in the country, and national policies were issued to combat communicable diseases, as well as intellectual property in the health field, a national policy to promote national health and another for immunisations.