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The UAE healthcare system is facing massive growth and expansion in light of the population growth and rise in GDP. This increasing demand for healthcare services, products and facilities call for foreign investment and expertise, since the demand cannot be meet by local supply.

The UAE healthcare system is divided between a public and private sector. Healthcare is public and free for UAE citizens (~1,1 million people), while healthcare is private and a paid service for non-UAE citizens. The Ministry of Health (MOH) is the governing body with three other main players: the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD), Abu Dhabi Health Service Company (SEHA) and Dubai Health Authority (DHA).

Rise in demand for Healthcare services and facilities

In light of the population growth and rise in total GDP and GDP per capita, Espicom estimates, that the demand for healthcare services and facilities are increasing.


The demand of doctors, nurses, dentists and pharmacists will increase massively towards 2025. DHA estimates, that they will need 7,323 more doctors and 8,510 nurses towards 2025. HAAD needs an additional 3,100 doctors by 2020. There are currently 19.3 physicians and 40.9 nurses and midwives per 10,000 persons in the U.A.E.

Healthcare expenditure

Healthcare expenditures are increasing in both the public and private sector. Total healthcare expenditure is expected to increase ~50% from 2010 to 2015. In 2018 total costs are expected to reach a value of USD16.5bn, and in 2023 expenditure is expected to grow to USD21.19bn, which equates to an CAGR from 2013-2023 of 6,2%. Each person spends USD1200 each year on healthcare, ranking it among the top 20 countries in the world for healthcare spending per capita. 


The government will cover more than 65% of the expenditure in 2018, and the private sector 35%. 

Pharmaceutical sale is growing

Drug spending per capita in the UAE is already the highest in the GCC region with USD240 per capita in 2013.  In 2012 the UAE pharmaceutical market reached a value of USD1.8bn. In 2017 the market will be worth USD2.4bn (33% increase in 5 years). The sales of pharmaceutical is expected to continue to grow by 2020 at an annual growth rate of 5,3%.


In addition, the sales of medical devises are growing at an annual growth rate of 6.3% by 2022.  


Import is vital

The high demand of medical devises, services and products can in no way be meet by local supply. Much more import is necessary. Medical device imports supply most of the market in value terms. ""

Imports rose by 19.7% from 2013 to 2014, reaching USD0.9bn. Overall, imports recorded a 2008-2013 CAGR of 6.6%, ranging from 3.0% for patient aids to 8.9% for dental products. Devise market projected to continue expansion at a 2013-2018 CAGR of 8.7%, increasing to a value of USD1.3bn in 2018. The leading suppliers are Europe, the USA and China. Orthopaedics and prosthetics are expected to record the highest 2013-2018 CAGR, while patient aids are expected to register the lowest CAGR.

Medical Tourism

UAE's medical tourism market was worth close to USD1.7bn in 2010 and is projected to grow 15% annually. The World Bank ranked Dubai and Adu Dhabi as 2nd and 3rd most popular medical tourism destinations in the MENA region (Jordan being number 1). Ministry of Health is expecting to attract over 500.000 medical tourists by 2020.

License and export is not a big hurdle

Product and import license are not the big hurdle. Medical devises and pharmaceuticals has to compile with the Healthcare Regulations set by the Ministry of Health, which set out the requirements for approval and registration. Whenever a product has the EU/CE marking import is easy. Selling to the private healthcare sector can only be done through distributor/agent registered with the Ministry of Economy and Commerce and have the import and trade licence. Public healthcare entities can choose to order and purchase directly from a foreign company without a ‘local middleman’.

Senior Commercial Advisor  

Ms. Edith Christmas
+971 50 189 4194


Commercial Advisor

Ms. Denise Antaki

+971 56 124 4015