The UAE is the obvious choice for a pharma manufacturing hub

Nation has always enjoyed the advantages of geography and political stability

By Mansoor Meenai

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Published: Thu 25 Apr 2024, 6:07 PM

Last updated: Mon 29 Apr 2024, 7:17 PM

The UAE’s reputation as an innovation center is well-earned. It is to these shores, more than any other in the region, that global firms flock in search of new markets. The country is famous for having its eyes on the horizon, for acknowledging that the world is changing and that industries must change too for a nation to remain competitive on the world stage. Sector by sector, the UAE government is supporting these changes, advising on ways forward and guiding startups and incumbents alike through economic quakes and torrents. A major focus of the government’s vision is the healthcare industry. It sees the fiscal and economic benefits of a healthier nation and it recognises that to see that end, something must be done about medicine security.

Some of the most recent data available from the UAE’s Federal Customs Authority (FCA) shows pharmaceutical imports for 2020 at $8.2 billion. Meanwhile, Circular Economy Innovation Communities (CEIC) data shows the country’s pharmaceutical exports to have been $542 million in 2022. And yet, the numbers do not do justice to the impressive work being done behind the scenes by the government and private companies to close this gap. Global industry players see the potential for the UAE to become a pharmaceutical manufacturing hub and we, along with the Ministry of Health and Prevention, are determined to make this vision a reality.

Mansoor Meenai, Interim Head of Region, Middle East, Turkey, and Africa, Acino
Mansoor Meenai, Interim Head of Region, Middle East, Turkey, and Africa, Acino

UAE Vision 2030 and Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030 call for product security across sectors – for the nation to onshore production of medicines, for example, because it leaves its healthcare industry less vulnerable to price fluctuations and supply-chain hiccups. Medicine security is crucial to the realisation of long-term goals such as higher availability of care, enhanced treatment outcomes and, ultimately, a healthier society.

The UAE has always enjoyed the advantages of geography and political stability, but its government has built on these benefits by developing world-beating infrastructure, creating a business-friendly environment with value-adding regulation, and demonstrating an admirable focus on industrial best practices. For these reasons and many others, the country has become much more than just a major market for pharmaceutical consumption. It offers the promise of a strategically ideal hub for innovation and production.

There is every reason to believe pharmaceutical exports will grow, given the influx of industry investors. And these investments need not necessarily be greenfield developments. For example, Acino’s UAE-based state-of-the-art production capabilities open the door to closing the medicine security gap. First, they grant enhanced access to quality products within the country. But as production ramps up to meet demand, they will soon support a boost to exports. Acino’s facility is an EU-GMP and GCC-certified manufacturing center that draws upon international expertise, which builds trust in the UAE as the go-to source for quality pharma products and lays the groundwork for a future reshaping of the global pharmaceutical landscape, all while bolstering the local economy.

Pharma companies from around the world must work closely with MOHAP and align with its vision to establish the UAE as a regional manufacturing hub for pharmaceuticals. When we do this, we will see a range of knock-on benefits inside and outside the UAE healthcare sector. We will diversify economic activity, create jobs, and attract talent. So, the work we do now will not only enhance the health of people. It will enhance the health of every aspect of society.

The writer is Interim Head of Region, Middle East, Turkey, and Africa, Acino

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