Healthcare Industry Update Q1 2016
Healthcare is one of the rising priorities on many national agendas in the Gulf. Due to factors such as growing incomes, longer life expectancies and the introduction of new illnesses to the region, there is great incentive to invest in healthcare infrastructure projects and personnel.
Many Gulf States are undertaking significant investments to meet growing healthcare demand. The ambition is to bring this sector up to the standards seen in North America and Western Europe. Public and private investment in this business sector is projected to exceed $150 billion in 2016.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in particular is seen as leading force in this movement. In response to discord regarding overcrowded Saudi hospitals and shortages over medicine, healthcare development in the Kingdom is accelerating at an incredible rate. Several new “healthcare cities” are under construction. Further, the number of hospitals is expected to increase by more than 100 within the next the five years. Several of the notable facilities include:
King Khaled Medical City
This is a 700,000 square meters facility in Dammam. It will encompass a 1,500 bed hospital, a residential complex, research centre as well as an international academy. The development is estimated to cost over $US 1.2 billion.
King Abdullah Medical City
The 1,350 bed capacity project in Makkah will cover an area of 350 hectares. It will include a five-story hospital building, in which 500 beds will be allotted for specialist referrals.
United Arab Emirates
Elsewhere on the Arabian Peninsula, the United Arab Emirates will devote a budget of approximately $12 billion to healthcare. This spending is roughly 3.3% of Gross Domestic Product.
Dubai’s recent decision to make health insurance mandatory for all workers will continue to be a catalyst for private investment in the emirate’s healthcare sector. The emirate’s mandate, similar to what occurred in Abu Dhabi previously, will make employers responsible for supplying an “essential benefits package” for every staff member. Several of the beginning phases of this policy will go into effect this year. The government will continue to remain responsible for the coverage of local nationals, who are estimated to make up less than twenty percent of Dubai’s population.
Qatar’s growing healthcare sector is undergoing rapid change. Projects being undertaken stem from the National Health Strategy, a five year plan developed in 2011. Some of the unique aspects of this strategy include construction of new hospitals, the reformation of cancer services, as well as taking measures to curb the diabetes and obesity epidemics. This is underpinned by the establishment of an integrated system of healthcare for the country as well as a range of preventative programmes.
While healthcare spending is expected to increase across the Gulf, there continues to be a shortage of medical school graduates and other skilled personnel. This circumstance makes the region’s healthcare providers heavily dependent on expatriates to fill healthcare roles. And for native-English speaking expats, opportunities are especially bountiful with organizations that participate in partnerships from the United States and the United Kingdom. Some of these partnerships in the United Arab Emirates alone include Children’s Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Johns Hopkins, and GE Healthcare.
There are certainly no shortage of healthcare related professional opportunities in the GCC. These are all reasons why this regions offers amazing potential for the prospective expatriate healthcare worker looking for a change.
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