In tourism generally and medical tourism specifically, the UAE has branded itself as a luxurious destination offering exclusive services involving the best experts and the latest in technology for those with deep pockets from all parts of the world.
Dubai, especially, is home to more than 4,000 medical facilities across the private sector. The emirate attracts 40 percent of its tourists from Asia, 20 percent from Arab countries, and the rest from Europe.
However, should UAE want to become a global medical tourism hub, it needs to attract and target the bulk of the medical tourists from Asia, for whom cost is the main factor. It is a significant challenge the authorities would need to address.
Despite, its state-of-the-art medical procedures and geographical proximity to major connecting air hubs, more medical value travelers from Africa, West, and South Asian Countries choose India over UAE because the treatment costs are 40 to 50 percent less here.
The UAE is home to more than 5,300 healthcare centers and more than 150 hospital players who, in turn, have their own branches and surgery facilities. At 2.82, the ratio of number of doctors per 1000 people population is also one of the highest in the region.
Still, the cost of hospital treatment in the UAE can be a significant concern for many patients. Unless the authorities do something about it, the country's dreams of becoming a global medical tourism hub may well remain a pipe dream.