Role reversal


Role reversal
Dr. Raza Siddique

High-calibre medical facilities in the UAE are attracting patients from all over the world


Suchitra Steven Samuel

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Published: Thu 31 Aug 2017, 3:17 PM

Last updated: Sat 2 Sep 2017, 5:20 PM

"When I first came to the UAE, I came to promote India as a medical tourism destination representing Apollo Hospital. I consider myself fortunate that I was instrumental in playing a role in reversing the trend," says Dr. Raza Siddique, CEO, Arabian Healthcare Group, in an interview with Khaleej Times.
"Today we are promoting the UAE, Dubai and the region as a medical tourism destination, which is a big deal because it has all happened in just 10 to 12 years," adds the CEO.
Arabian Healthcare Group is headquartered in Ras Al Khaimah with a corporate office in Dubai. His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, owns the Group. Dr. Siddique takes care of RAK Hospital, chain of clinics, pathology labs, and the medical and dental college. "I've been in the UAE now for about 18 years and I am lucky to have seen the evolution of healthcare from a typical government subsidised system to a full-fledged insurance support system. In addition, I have also witnessed the reversal of medical tourism," he adds.
The CEO continues, "Imagine a place where people are coming from all over the world to attract patients. Within 10 years, this place transforms in such a way in healthcare that not only has it become self-sufficient but has also started attracting medical tourists in large numbers. This is a huge business opportunity close to $100 billion internationally; and in this region we are talking about $20-30 billion. I've been a part of the evolution in India, which has now almost become the number one medical tourism destination in terms of numbers."
The CEO stresses that Dubai and the UAE are on a similar path because healthcare has two components - healthcare and hospitality. "India is a very good healthcare destination but there are issues regarding infrastructure, safety, security, and a lot of other components, which are very important for a family. It has still a long way to go."
The GCC and Africa are the main markets in the region. "People feel comfortable to come here. If you see places like Thailand, it was the first tourist destination, but over a period of time the country developed healthcare and people from all over the world go there. Same thing is happening here. Dubai is trusted as a safe, secure, top-of-the-line hospitality destination. Now the Rulers have realised the potential for healthcare and it has become one of the main sectors that is promoted.
"The annual Arab Health exhibition has evolved to become one of the best healthcare shows in the world. People from all over the world come to Dubai and institutions here get a good opportunity to promote themselves as a medical tourism destination. The platform is so good that you get to showcase what you are doing to experts who are sort of facilitators - instrumental in managing the overseas treatment of patients. So all these people come from the Middle East and Africa and it is a good experience for all of us."
For example, this year the Group is promoting a new technique in knee replacement called gyroscope technology for which they are getting a number of enquiries. "People want to come to Ras Al Khaimah for that kind of treatment. Similarly, there are other areas like our tie-up with Fortis Hospital for heart surgery. The idea is that if you are not able to do it yourself, tie up with the best and bring them to your doorstep. And in turn your people also come up to that level to match the standards," he concludes.

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