Dubai officials have been working hard this week to come up with a plan for how to harness the medical tourism sector and make Dubai the world's most important hub for the industry.
In the last few weeks it has been reported that Dubai has seen a swell in overseas medical tourists in recent times. In the first quarter of this year, for instance, it was reported that the number of people coming to Dubai specifically for treatment at hospitals amounted to 118,000.
And now, Dr Bandar Al-Fehaid, president of the Arab Tourism Organisation, has said that health tourism was one of the fastest-growing industries in the world.
This week, the industry has been the focus of a conference held at Mohammed Bin Rashid Academic Medical Centre in Dubai Health Care City, with the subjects discussed including how Dubai can promote its quality of care and the packages on offer to tourists. By showing what the emirate has to offer, it is hoped that more people will see the benefits and come to have treatment in the emirate. By the end of 2020, it is hoped that some 500,000 people per year will be making the trip as medical tourists to Dubai.
Tamer El Chamaa, the director of the World Health Tourism Congress, said he hopes that all of the Gulf countries can come together to help each other increase the number of health tourists coming to the nations. He said health ministers and tourism sector officials should be working together to come up with a strategy to help harness this booming industry.
In total, health officials from more than 80 countries across the globe came together to discuss the health tourism sector, which is a $100 billion per year industry in Dubai, a third of which comes from within the Arab world.