What is the economic impact of the healthcare sector in the UAE?

AMIN AL AMIRI: The medical healthcare services is improving in United Arab Emirates in both sectors; governmental and the private. There was a report which was released by the BMI, which is Business Monitoring International from UK, that the health expenditure in United Arab Emirates by end of 2014 was almost 50 billion Dirhams ($13.6bn). And it has jumped by in end of 2015 to 54 billion Dirhams ($14.7bn). It has been forecast that by end of 2019, it will reach almost 71 billion Dirhams ($19.3bn).

This is a strong indication of how health services has such a strong impact on the Emirates' economy in total. On top of that, you will think of the other part of the health services, which is pharmaceutical industry. It has been stated by the BMI that the pharmaceutical market value were almost 8.9 billion Dirhams in 2014 ($2.4bn). It has been jumped to 9.4 billion Dirhams ($2.6bn) by end of 2015 and forecast in 2019 to reach for 14 billion Dirhams ($3.8bn). In total, the pharmaceutical industry stands for 13.9% of the total health expenditure in the Emirates.

This is a strong indication that the health and the pharmaceutical industries both had a strong impact on the economy of the United Arab Emirates. We must also take into consideration that 95% of the pharmaceutical international companies, they have based their regional international office here in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and the rest of the Emirates. Their business value is almost above 20 billion Dirhams ($5.4bn) annually. This is a strong indication of how much the pharmaceutical industries are very much supportive to the economy of the UAE and are growing fast at the rate of 8.9% to 9.1% annually.

Also, we have a logistic hub for the pharmaceutical industry for the MENA region, which is the Middle East and Northern Africa. This is a very strong indication of how much the Emirates is improving in terms of both the medical and pharmaceutical industry.

What do you see as the growth areas going forward?

AMIN AL AMIRI: One of the most promising sectors is the pharmaceutical industry, that's part of the total health sector in which 95% of those international pharmaceutical companies have their regional office and logistic hubs based here in United Arab Emirates. It's very promising that they are expanding their activities. They are supporting our economy. They are supporting the health services in general. Despite that, the regulations in United Arab Emirates is behind attracting and encouraging the international hospitals to come and join us.

I am quite sure you know that Cleveland Clinic is now in Abu Dhabi. Johns Hopkins, they are running one of their hospitals in Abu Dhabi. Seoul National University Hospital are running Sheikh Khalifa Hospital in Ras al-Khaimah and we have also a Swedish Company, which is Global Health, they are running the Rashid Diabetics Center in Ajman.

We have many examples, in fact, where international hospitals are running our hospitals in the Emirates. We have strategic joint-venture programs with them. This is a strong indication and very promising to the foreign companies and foreign international hospitals to join us and have their base in United Arab Emirates. At the end of the day, it supports medical tourism here in the Emirates.

How well positioned is the UAE to be a regional or global healthcare and medical tourism hub?

AMIN AL AMIRI: We are a global country, the Emirates, with the visionary leadership of His Highness, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Federal President of the Emirates and his brother Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, which his government created one of the great governments in United Arab Emirates and worldwide, supporting the improvements of this country.

Emirates is the most global country in the world. We have 202 nationalities in the Emirates living in peace, living in happiness, and we were the first country in the world that we have a Minister of Happiness. Therefore, we are trying to attract people, encouraging everyone to come and join us. The services which have been provided to different sectors, it really attracted the most international companies to come and join us in different fields.

Now, we are talking about the health and the pharmaceutical industries. As I mentioned, 95% of the international medical and pharmaceutical companies, their regional hubs are based here in Emirates. None of those international companies with their investments of billions of Dirhams every year will come and join you unless you have the strong infrastructure, you have good connection to the rest of the countries, unless you have the good regulations which allow their investments to be here, unless you have the good, fast, attractive registration process for their employees, for their physicians, for their products like drugs, food supplements, medical claims, and medical equipment, and also the regulations which allow them for the proper distribution, proper storage, cold chain, and also the proper distribution from Emirates to the outside of United Arab Emirates.

Therefore, the Emirates is the most global country in the world. Soon, we will be having very much attractive programs, which we'll be able to encourage the companies more and more in the near future.