Burjeel Holdings
Burjeel Holdings will line up alliances with Saudi operators for its push into the GCC's biggest healthcare market. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Burjeel Holdings – the UAE’s biggest private healthcare operator now – will be investing up to $1 billion in its expansion into Saudi Arabia. The Abu Dhabi-headquartered Burjeel will look at alliances rather than acquisitions in the Kingdom.

This is the third Gulf state that the healthcare firm – which operates LLH, Medeor, and Lifecare hospital brands – will be in after the UAE and Oman, where it operates a combined 1,660 beds. The Saudi move comes as talk swirls about a potential IPO by Burjeel.

A MoU has been signed with the Saudi Ministry of Investment, which will see the UAE firm partner select healthcare organisations in that market. “We are proud to commit to this MoU with the Ministry of Investment – a significant step in our entry to the Kingdom,” said Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, CEO. “We are excited about the many opportunities to support the Kingdom’s healthcare ambitions and to bring our expertise to a sector which is integral to the delivery of Vision 2030.”

Burjeel Medical City
The Burjeel Medical City is part of the extensive healthcare network the Abu Dhabi based firm has built in the UAE and Oman.

Burjeel’s network in UAE and Oman extends to 39 hospitals and medical centres. In addition, there is a pharmacy chain and allied services. Across the group, its staff strength is 10,000 plus. Revenues last year totalled Dh3.35 billion, representing an 18 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over 2019-21.

The timing of the Saudi plans come as the Kingdom expands on a major urban expansion, that covers the metropolises as well Tier 1 and 2 cities. In addition, healthcare will be an integral facet of the ‘giga’ projects it is on, including NEOM and AlUla.

Dr Shamsheer Vayalil

Burjeel Holdings plan to collaborate with local partners in the Kingdom for various speciality health offerings, for which strong capabilities exist in the Group. The group is already in discussion with some potential partners.

- Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, CEO of Burjeel Holdings

What’s interesting is that Burjeel prefers to do partnerships with existing operators or investors rather than buy up existing healthcare facilities. This would help it deploy the planned investments ‘more astutely rather than engage in heavy capex from the outset’, a healthcare analyst said. The other priority will be to be part of PPPs (Public Private Partnerships).

“The group is in discussions with various private sector providers and leading public sector hospitals in SA to deliver these services and expects to begin formalizing collaboration agreements over the coming months,” Burjeel said in a statement.