Dubai: Dubai generated over Dh1.4 billion from the medical tourism sector with around 326,649 tourists visiting the emirate last year, said Dubai Health Authority (DHA) on Tuesday.

The influx of tourists marked a 9.5 per cent increase over previous years and the most popular areas of treatment were orthopaedics, dermatology and ophthalmology, said Dr Laila Al Marzouqi, director of Dubai Medical Tourism Project. The largest market for the emirate was Asian medical tourists, who accounted for 37 per cent of visitors. Arab and GCC countries were the second largest market, accounting for 31 per cent of tourists and visitors from Europe amounted to 15 per cent of the total, added Dr Al Marzouqi.

Al Marzouqi said her department was looking at enhancing partner portfolio in the field with more collaborations. “Besides targeting growth in numbers, we are also concentrating our efforts on enhancing our partner portfolio. We have recently included the region’s first holistic health and wellness resort in our portfolio. This will provide the health tourist a unique opportunity to avail the complete wellness offering in Dubai. We have also partnered with The Health Bank in a strategic initiative to enhancing the customer experience by offering end-to-end services — right from research of doctors and health facilities to treatment, accommodation, translator services and post-treatment follow-up,” she pointed out.

In a bid to strengthen their position in the medical tourism market, Dubai has participated in a number of global events. The Medical Tourism Council (MTC) represented the emirate at ITB Berlin 2017. One key market for Dubai is Africa and in March, Dubai Health Experience (DXH) participated in the Dubai-Africa Partnership for Better Health Roadshow, with visits to Nigeria and Ghana. Approximately, 15 health care providers attended, along with a number of travel agents, who promoted the Dubai as a destination and the city’s international medical expertise.

In April, DHA also participated in the 5th Shanghai International Private Health Management Expo 2017. The organisation also held a series of roadshows across the GCC, in association with the Ministry of Economy, under the umbrella of the Visit UAE campaign.

In April, the tourism council also participated in the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai, and signed MoUs with The Retreat Palm Dubai – M Gallery by Sofitel as well as The Health Bank.

To ensure that the emirate has an accurate understanding of the medical tourism market in Dubai, in 2015, the Medical Tourism Council initiated a collaboration with the Dubai Statistics Centre to collect patients’ data from the private health sector, outpatient clinics and polyclinics. The private health care sector was mandated to collate key information on their patients, such as their age, gender, nationality and city of residence. Private centres are required to submit data periodically to the Dubai Statistics Centre’s e-source, electronic system. The statistics are then used to develop a greater understanding of medical tourism trends so that Dubai can meet visitors’ needs as the medical tourism sector expands.


International and domestic medical tourism


2015: 332,474

2016: 323,893


2015: 298,359

2016: 326,659

Main age group

25-45 years