Dubai targets medical tourists

Abdullah ... travel agents are important

In April 2014, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown prince of Dubai, approved Dubai’s medical tourism strategy, sowing the seeds for Dubai Health Experience (DXH). On April 10 this year, DXH came into being, to position Dubai as a global destination for medical tourism.

TTN talks to Linda Abdullah, head of Dubai Medical Tourism Office, for more.

What has DXH achieved since its launch?

Our expectation was to attract 170,000 medical tourists in the year 2016, however, our reports show that we have already exceeded our milestone for 2016 in the previous year by attracting 630,000 medical tourists (domestic and international). Out of these, 47 per cent, or around 298,000, were international.

We estimate that the impact of medical tourism could boost Dubai’s economy by Dh2.6 billion ($708 million) a year by 2020.

What medical procedures is DXH promoting?

The focus for DXH at this stage is on seven specialised areas, which include orthopaedic surgeries, bariatric surgery, assisted reproductive techniques, dental and cosmetic surgery and wellness and health check-ups. At the moment, orthopaedics is proving to be one of the biggest attractions with a high percentage of visitors planning on having procedures in Dubai.

Why should someone come to Dubai for medical treatment?

Dubai is home to expert medical professionals – there are over 35,000 health specialists from more than 110 nationalities working in its 3,000 healthcare facilities, all of which are catering to medical tourists visiting Dubai from all around the world.

The key differentiating factors between Dubai and other countries renowned for medical tourism are the experiences provided by Dubai’s multifaceted approach to tourism. Visitors looking to undergo medical treatment in Dubai can have an integrated experience thanks to the Dubai’s already strong standing as a world destination.

Dubai is not only a major destination but also one of the fastest-growing medical tourism destinations. It has already received a number of awards such as – ‘The best integrated destination for medical tourism’ during the Tenth International Exhibition and Conference on Medical tourism in September 2015 and the ‘Innovation in Medical Tourism’ in Greece in May 2015. Recently, Dubai was awarded the ‘Highly Commended Destination of the World’ at the prestigious IMTJ (International Medical Travel Journal Awards) in Spain.

What is the role of travel agencies and tour operators in medical tourism?

Travel agents and travel partners play a very important role in promoting medical tourism as they are the first point of contact for any traveller. Strategic partnerships with local healthcare authorities and facilities will be an important factor for any travel agent to excel in medical tourism and develop customised travel packages, work on response time and also ensure smooth patient journey. Last, but not the least, travel agents will have to invest in marketing tools to promote medical packages along with the destination.

Through tourists can find the right healthcare packages that have been customised by our travel partners that include flight bookings, hotel accommodation and other ground services. Travel agencies and ground handling partners can facilitate to plan the trip for the accompanying family members at the same time and ensure that the stay is more like a rejuvenating holiday experience.

Can you tell us about the medical tourism visa and how much it costs?

Dubai offers 90-days medical tourism visa in cooperation with General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs –this visa is renewable for an extra 30 days depending on the procedure and the patient’s case.

These kinds of visas cannot be applied for by patients and can only be applied for through the healthcare facility. That way our immigration department are sure that they are granting a real patient and accompanying person legitimate visas.

Visitors who need a visa are advised to contact their nearest UAE embassy or consulate or visit the website of the General Directorate of Foreign Residency and Foreigners Affairs,, as visa validity length, regulations and costs are subject to change.

As for visas, there are three types:

• A medical treatment single entry: Dh600 ($165)

• Medical treatment multiple entry: Dh1,450 ($395)

• Medical treatment extension single entry: Dh550 ($150)

What about medical insurance schemes? Who are the providers?

The Medical Tourism Travel Insurance programme is a unique travel insurance package that has been designed specifically for inbound medical tourists travelling to Dubai.

This travel insurance policy is underwritten by Alliance Insurance Company, a leading local insurance provider, and backed by the world leader in travel insurance, Allianz Global Assistance, and Lloyds of London. Local administration, technology, and marketing support to bring this innovative product to DHA approved medical facilities and their customers are provided by worldwide insurance solutions.

This policy provides cover while in the UAE for a variety of situations, including emergency medical expenses up to $50,000 for each insured person. Also, the individual receiving treatment s automatically covered for additional expenses in the event of an unexpected complication arising following a planned procedure at approved medical facilities included in the Dubai Medical tourism programme.

How will the new 3D printing technology boost medical tourism to Dubai?

Dubai Health Authority always caters to the demand in the healthcare industry and we are now working on a 3D printing strategy for medical services to determine the work methodology of making Dubai a global capital of 3D printing technologies in medical services by 2030.

Adopting this innovative technology will strongly enable us to achieve our goals in making Dubai a global destination for medical tourism.

As Dubai is already undertaking the initiative of producing artificial limbs using 3D printing by 2025, we are also planning to produce ceramic teeth in less than 20 minutes, use 3D printing in orthopaedic surgeries and create 3D printed casts, which will speed the healing process of patients by 40 to 80 per cent.

Why should a potential medical tourist to Dubai book through your portal

DXH portal is a single comprehensive platform for medical tourists to start their journey in Dubai from abroad before even reaching the city.

DXH makes it easy for medical tourists to compare and select the best choices suited to their budget as it offers a wide range of medical specialties and services specially tailored for DXH, it provides medical packages with detailed information, costs, and inclusions and exclusions, as well as extensive travel information including visa requirements and the option of booking both hotel stays and return flights through Emirates Airlines at special fares.

The portal also features the detailed Patient Bill of Rights and Patient Protection Plan (all medical packages provide medical insurance to cover any complication or medical liability). is designed to navigate easily using a laptop or through a mobile application and it is simple for medical tourists to plan their visit from A to Z.


Burjeel Hospital recognised

BURJEEL Hospital for Advanced Surgery, UAE’s premier private healthcare facility and a leading centre for orthopaedic, spine and joint care in the region, was awarded the title of ‘International Specialist Patient Hospital of the Year’ by UK-based medical publication, The International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ) at its annual awards, which took place earlier this year at Madrid, Spain. Dubai was awarded the ‘Highly Commended Destination of the World’ at the same event.

The awards ceremony was held in conjunction with the IMTJ Medical Travel Summit, which brings together the world’s best known providers and experts in international medical care.

The hospital, which provides world-class, specialized and excellent medical treatment and services to multinational communities in the Middle East, trumped a host of other international health care organisations to win the much-deserved accolade based on the feedback from an independent panel of medical travel experts.


Medical Tourism in Dubai

$708m  Estimated contribution of medical tourism to Dubai’s economy by 2020
2030     When Dubai aims to be the global hub of 3D printing in medical services
$165     Dubai’s 90-day, single-entry, medical tourism visa cost