Medical tourism in the UAE is booming
The UAE has long been a hub for medical tourism, but today it also attracts travelers looking for cosmetic and plastic surgery.
Plastic surgeries in the UAE have increased at a rapid pace in recent years, turning the country into a global hub for the field.
Cosmetic or beauty tourism has brought about a remarkable boom in the local economy to become one of the key sources of income diversification that fully achieves the goal of a knowledge-based competitive economy built on innovation.
According to estimates, the revenues of this sector have recently increased by between 30% to 40%, compared to the past five years, despite the impact of COVID-19.
The UAE, especially Dubai, uses advanced medical infrastructure which ranks it sixth among the best global destinations from 46 international sites in the Medical Tourism Index for the year 2020-2021, and the first in the Gulf region.
The UAE decided in April to allocate the ninth of May of every year to celebrate “Medical Day”, in appreciation of the efforts of medical staff and healthcare workers in promoting community health and quality of life. This year, it will be held under the slogan “The UAE appreciates you.”
Growth despite competition
The UAE has ranked favorably over many countries which have had a long history in this field, such as Turkey, and this as a result of the strict controls that government agencies place on this service.
Medical tourism sales in the UAE are achieving remarkable growth and are expected to record UAE 19.5 billion dirhams in the year 2023, with a cumulative annual growth rate of 10.7%.
The cosmetic sector in the UAE contributes about 50 percent of the medical tourism industry.
According to figures from the Dubai Chamber of Industry and Commerce, cosmetic revenues have increased by between 30-40 percent in the recent period, compared to the past five years.
Top medical staff
When we talk about the medical infrastructure that the UAE enjoys, we mean top-level medical staff in various specialties. This is in addition to the important surgical and cosmetic centers, which include some of the most important and advanced equipment in the world.
Competing centers in the UAE led to competitive pricing for treatments, coupled with ease of scheduling medical appointments and short waiting times.
The quality of medical services is accompanied by strict controls by health authorities over compliance with and application of international standards. This contributed to raising the quality of operations and reducing erroneous practices, which encouraged people to choose the UAE as a top destination for plastic surgery.
In addition to having modern medical staff and centers, incentives encourage demand for this sector, as patients, can enjoy discounts on hotel accommodations.
In addition, there are comprehensive tourism packages in cooperation with partners from the hospitality and tourism sector which help secure travel and accommodation required for the medical trip, including visa and medical insurance coverage and any unforeseen health complications resulting from the treatment.
A dedicated multilingual team is also available to assist customers and provide for their needs.
In addition, the Dubai Health Authority launched the “Dubai Health Experience Portal” (DXH), which is the world’s first medical tourism platform.
This portal provides medical tourists with easy access to integrated information on high-quality healthcare, travel, and visa services.
In the same context, the Department of Health and the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi has since 2018 launched the Abu Dhabi electronic portal for medical tourism, which is a digital portal that provides visitors to the emirate with all information about medical services and health care facilities throughout the duration of their visit.
The most prominent specialties
Hospitals and medical centers located throughout the country provide treatment opportunities, as the UAE plays host to specialized healthcare services.
The most requested types of medical services are dentistry (46 percent of all services), orthopedics (18 percent), followed by dermatology (10 percent).
Also, liposuction and body sculpting are among the most popular cosmetic surgeries for Arab nationalities, both men and women.
Also popular are rhinoplasty, and face-lifting by surgical and non-surgical methods that rely on injections of filler and Botox materials.
A study indicated that 60% of cosmetic surgeries are limited to liposuction, tummy tuck, and arm tightening to remove sagging, especially after cutting and tying the stomach, to get rid of excess weight widespread in Gulf countries.
Around 30 percent of the total cosmetic operations are Botox injections, fillers, and lasers, and 25 percent of them are for men.
Cosmetic tourism opened the door to the “cosmetics industry” country as a result of the large-scale distribution of beauty centers.
This industry attracted major investments in the world, especially with the interest expressed by many celebrities in this field, and the use of social media in promoting it.
Medical tourism combines experience, skill, and amenities, and most importantly, the trust earned when the UAE medical and hospitalization sectors won the battle with Coronavirus, as well as given the unique tourism opportunities that patients enjoy while being treated.