Aster opens its booth at Arab Health in Dubai on Jan 29, 2024
Alisha Moopen, Managing Director and Group CEO, Aster DM Healthcare GCC; Dr Azad Moopen, Founder and Chairman, Aster DM Healthcare; and N S Balasubramanian, CEO of Aster Retail, alongside leadership and staff from Aster DM Healthcare, inaugurating the Aster Booth at Arab Health 2024 on Monday in Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Thousands of jobs will be up for grabs for health professionals as two prominent healthcare groups in the UAE have announced local and regional expansion plans at the ongoing Arab Health 2024 exhibition in Dubai.

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Aster DM Healthcare and Life Healthcare Group have announced the launch of premier facilities in Dubai and their plans to expand the businesses in the GCC, especially in Saudi Arabia, in the next three years.

The 49th edition of the Arab Health, hosting 3,400 exhibitors, and over 180 participating countries worldwide, is being held from January 29 to February 1 at Dubai World Trade Centre.

Two top leaders of the groups revealed these details to Gulf News on Tuesday.

Dr Azad Moopen, founder and chairman of Aster DM Healthcare, confirmed that his group is actively hiring for its expansions, with plans to recruit doctors, nurses, paramedics, admins and support staff in the UAE. Around 650 jobs will be provided at a soon-to-be inaugurated premium hospital in Dubai’s Al Twar, he said.

“It is called the Medcare Royal Hospital. It is spread across 450,000 square feet. It is going to be a multi-speciality hospital with many centres of excellence,” said Dr Moopen.

Medcare Royal_2-1706630394371
Medcare Royal Hospital Image Credit: Supplied

Set to open in the first quarter of this year, he said the hospital aims to address the growing need for advanced quarternary care like transplants, cancer treatment, and robotic surgery. “We have committed to partner with the Dubai Health Authority to make Dubai a destination for medical value travel.”

He said the group aims to introduce more specialised centres, tertiary and quarternary care at existing hospitals as well.

Aster Royal brand

Another local expansion plan is taking place with the in-house expansion and rebranding of Aster clinics in premium areas in Dubai with more diverse workforce.

“Two such clinics in Downtown Dubai and Arabian Ranches are rebranded as Aster Royal Clinic,” said Dr Moopen.

Apart from offering various specialties, an Aster Royal clinic will also have in-house comprehensive diagnostic facilities, niche medical services Digital Dental Scanning, super-specialty services and expansive aesthetic services including Laser Hair Removal, Botox, Fillers, Platelet-Rich Plasma, and Mesotherapy.

Saudi expansion

After the recent move for the separation of the GCC business from the Indian operations, Aster has now outlined a significant expansion in Saudi Arabia.

With plans to roll out 250 pharmacies over the next three years, Aster looks forward to adding 50 to 100 pharmacies annually, said Dr Moopen.

The recruitment drive covers an estimated minimum of 1,200 hires for pharmacy-related positions in the Kingdom, he said.

The group’s Saudi expansion goes beyond pharmacies, with Aster exploring opportunities in hospitals and clinics, as well. Dr Moopen revealed Aster’s interest in operations management of existing hospitals, collaborating with the Ministry of Health.

“We are expanding with the launch of Aster Sanad hospital’s annex building. We have also started looking for suitable assets for hospitals—either buildings or if there is land available, or if there are any acquisition opportunities. We are looking at all these opportunities.”

At Arab Health, he said, Aster Pharmacy launched 37 products, including five new brands, focussing on latest trends in wellness and healthy living.

Life to double workforce

Meanwhile, the Life Healthcare Group said it aims to double its workforce in the next three years, expecting an increase from 4,500 to around 9,000 employees in the UAE alone.

Adam Abdul Nazar

Unveiling the group’s strategic expansion plans at Arab Health, Adam Abdul Nazar, deputy CEO of Life Healthcare Group, told Gulf News that the group, currently owning the largest pharmacy chain in the UAE with around 450 pharmacies, is actively hiring for its expansion in the UAE and beyond.

He said the group envisions opening about 25 polyclinics in the country over the next two years. On the pharmacy front, they aspire to achieve a significant milestone of 1,000 pharmacies in the UAE during the same period.

“We also have plans to expand our Life Health and Glow outlets which focus on beauty and wellness.”

A branch of Life Health and Glow Image Credit: Supplied

GCC expansion

He said the group plans to expand its pharmacy chain beyond the UAE, targeting Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The pharmacy expansion is currently in the assessment stage, with operational plans slated for Q3 of 2024 in both countries.

Life pharmacy at Arab Health at Dubai World Trade Centre
Life pharmacy at Arab Health at Dubai World Trade Centre Image Credit: Supplied

Though he confirmed plans to hire for these countries as well, he did not provide specific numbers, stating that hiring figures for the GCC countries would depend on whether the ventures are greenfield investment (completely new business) or acquisitions of existing ones.

Regarding Saudi Arabia, Abdul Nazar outlined plans to start with Life Pharmacy’s online delivery services, later expanding into retail business.

While the pharmacy chain is set to expand internationally, he clarified that clinics and medical centres remain focused on the UAE for the time being.

Premium clinic

Life’s latest recruitment drive for clinical professionals was for its new premium facility in Dubai Mall. “We recently had the soft launch of our premium clinic under the brand name ‘Ikigai’. It is a one-stop-medical facility, with around several departments.”

Ikigai in Dubai Mall Image Credit: Supplied

Managed by UK and USA boards-certified doctors, he said the clinic has a special focus on preventive care and a wellness-centric approach, aligning with the Dubai market’s preferences.