Global standards enable Dubai’s healthcare sector to mount strong response to COVID-19 crisis: Dubai Economy
The healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors in Dubai and the UAE have shown a remarkable level of readiness and capabilities in facing COVID-19 and its associated challenges, according to an analysis of the Department of Economic Development in Dubai (Dubai Economy).
Dubai's ability to mount a robust response to the crisis has shown that its sustained focus on attracting large-scale investments in infrastructure as well as research and development related to healthcare, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment has been a prudent strategy, it found.
Pharmaceuticals and medical equipment constitute one of the six priority sub-sectors in the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030, which aims to transform the emirate into a global platform for knowledge-based, sustainable and innovation-focused industries, Dubai Economy noted, adding that COVID-19 has made it imperative to continue investing in these sectors for improved readiness to meet emerging challenges.
The role of the leadership in promoting investment and excellence in the healthcare sector in the UAE has received global attention, especially in light of current circumstances. Following the COVID-19 outbreak, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, chaired a cabinet meeting, in which he issued directives to draft a post-COVID-19 UAE development strategy and hold intensive federal as well as local government meetings to highlight key changes and identify our development objectives as well as our upcoming agenda.
He also asked for an urgent plan to be prepared in order to raise the level of productivity and competitiveness of the healthcare industry in the country and formed a working group headed by the Ministry of Energy and Industry.
He stressed that the new teams are required to work in a faster and more comprehensive manner; further response is needed to accelerate daily changes and our national priorities need to be reviewed by the post-COVID-19 world. He said that financial and human resources need to be redirected, and country's medical, food, and economic security needs to be further entrenched through new programmes and projects. "Preparation for the post-COVID-19 world is the preparation for a new future that no one expected only months ago," His Highness said.
Data from the Dubai FDI Monitor indicates that Dubai has attracted 55 foreign direct investment, FDI, projects in the healthcare, pharmaceutical, and medical equipment sectors over the past five years, with a value of AED 3.82 billion.
Dubai Economy has expected that the federal cabinet’s approval for the first list of economic activities open to 100 percent foreign ownership in accordance with the Foreign Investment Law Dubai will attract further foreign investments into various health sectors. Dubai FDI is preparing to put the list into practice pending completion of internal procedures to deal with investor requests.
According to Dubai Economy, the number of licenced health establishments in Dubai stands at 3,393, which includes 43 hospitals; 41 centres for day surgeries; and 2,056 additional clinics, including speciality clinics, polyclinics, and medical centres. The remaining 1,253 establishments include pharmacies, drug stores, medical laboratories, and imaging centres, among others, according to data from the Business Registration and Licensing, BRL, sector in Dubai Economy. There are also 19 pharmaceutical factories registered in the Dubai Science Park, all of which point to Dubai’s rising position as a global destination for healthcare and medical tourism enterprises.
The pharmaceutical sector in Dubai contributes about one percent of the total GDP of manufacturing industries in the emirate. According to Dubai Customs, the emirate earned AED437 million by exporting medicines in 2019 and AED2.8 billion from re-exports, while total trade in medicines was worth AED16 billion. Pharmaceutical exports out of Dubai have grown exceptionally over the past five years, with rates exceeding 50 percent each year.
Middle East countries, particularly Lebanon (19 percent), Turkey (13 percent), Iraq (11percent), Oman (10 percent) and Egypt (9 percent), were the most important destination markets for pharmaceutical exports from Dubai in 2019. The data during the same year indicate that Dubai exported medical supplies to various other markets, including China (9 percent), US (8 percent), Kuwait (7 percent), and India (7 percent).
Dubai Economy noted that Dubai Expo 2020, which will now be held in 2021, is also expected to have a positive impact on the healthcare sector and related consumption.
According to the Ministry of Health, the UAE is a regional headquarters for international healthcare companies, more than 90 percent of which have regional offices in the country, and more than 50 percent of which serve a region that extends from Africa to Eastern Europe. More than 5,000 employees work in these offices, 25 percent of whom serve all countries of the region, making the UAE a hub for marketing innovative healthcare products as soon as they are approved by global agencies.
The intellectual property, IP, protection environment in the UAE also serves as a major attraction for healthcare solutions providers as well as research & development (R&D) companies globally.
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