The healthcare sector in the Gulf will continue to enjoy high growth in 2010, despite the global slowdown, led by government investment in infrastructure improvement, according to leading industry observers.
"In spite of significant project delays in other non-infrastructure sectors, the pipeline of healthcare projects in the region remains remarkably robust, particularly for Saudi Arabia and the UAE," said Simon Page, Director of the Life Science Division of IIR Middle East, organisers of this month's Arab Health Exhibition and Congress.
Arab Health – the biggest healthcare event in the Middle East – will take place at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre from January 25-28, 2010. With the opening of new halls providing a further 20,000 square metres, Arab Health will grow by more than 20 per cent in 2010, said Page.
Page was speaking as Dubai-based research firm Proleads released the latest figures on current investment in both the public and private healthcare sectors in Saudi Arabia, which is leading regional demand growth.
The Proleads figures show government investment in healthcare-related projects in Saudi Arabia is currently running at more than $5 billion (Dh18.36bn), compared with around $1bn of private sector investment.
In addition, per capita health care spending in the GCC countries is expected to continue growing faster than the global average, according to a recent report from Alpen Capital.
"Growth in income levels as well as an increase in health insurance coverage will boost demand for healthcare services," the report said. "Moreover, per capita health care requirements and spending will also increase as the GCC population ages and the disease mix changes."
The Alpen Capital report also forecasts the GCC may need in excess of 25,000 additional beds by 2020 to address growing demand for in-patient treatments. The largest share of demand is accounted for by Saudi Arabia followed by the UAE.
The Arab Health Exhibition and Congress is the flagship event of IIR Middle East's Life Science Division. At the 2009 event, 2,205 exhibitors from 59 countries showcased their products and services.
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