Dubai: DHA to focus on healthcare startups, tech companies this year

Home care for elderly also among key areas of focus, as emirate’s investment-friendly ecosystem makes it conducive for international businesses


Nandini Sircar

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Dr Ibtesam Al Bastaki with other officials at the DHA stand at Arab Health 2023.
Dr Ibtesam Al Bastaki with other officials at the DHA stand at Arab Health 2023.

Published: Tue 31 Jan 2023, 9:05 PM

Last updated: Tue 31 Jan 2023, 9:40 PM

Healthcare startups and technology companies are major areas of focus for the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) this year.

Speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the Arab Health 2023 in Dubai, senior officials of DHA underlined that the emirate’ investment-friendly ecosystem makes it conducive for international healthcare startups to make Dubai home.

Dr Ibtesam Al Bastaki, Director of Investments and PPP (Public Private Partnership) at the DHA, highlighted that Dubai’s strategic location, future-outlook, diverse and growing population, the influx of medical tourists, support and guidance received by investors are some of the reasons that make the emirate a favourable investment destination.

Al Bastaki added: “We want to encourage healthcare industries to come from different parts of the world and invest in Dubai. We also want to focus on healthcare startups and technology companies with a special focus on med tech. In med tech we are keen on attracting start-ups and companies in medical devices, diagnostics and digital health. In digital health, the aim is to empower patients with as much convenience as possible by providing them with telemedicine services as well as empowering them by providing them with access to their medical information and devices that will help them monitor their health on a daily basis.”

Steady FDI inflow in country’s health sector

She explained that investment facilitation and ease of doing business have resulted in increased FDI inflows into the country.

“Despite Covid-19, we saw steady FDI inflows in the health sector,” she added.

In 2021, the FDI inflows that Dubai attracted, as per the Dubai’s Department of Economic Development, was $37.2 million in healthcare from countries such as the USA, India, the UK, France, Sweden and Japan.

“Post pandemic, the specialities that we are focusing on the next two years are mental health rehabilitation, long-term and urgent care. For the next five to eight years, areas like precision medicine and population health management will be important.”


Other areas of expansion include innovation, digital health medical equipment, mental health, urgent care, long-term care, rehabilitation and home care.

Homecare for ageing population

“Homecare is a service we want to particularly tailor for the ageing population, to provide them with care as well as regular timely follow-ups in the comfort of their homes.”

The DHA’s projections for 2023 and beyond estimate a growth of 10-15 per cent for medical professionals and 3-6 per cent for facilities.

Al Bastaki averred that Dubai has seen tremendous growth in the health sector and that the sector continues to attract foreign direct investment.

Dubai has 4,482 private health facilities. In the last five years, the percentage growth of health facilities has been about 45 per cent.

Along with the growth in the number of healthcare facilities, Dubai has also witnessed an impressive 61 per cent increase in licensed medical professionals to reach 55,208 in 2022.

Al Bastaki highlighted that streamlined and clear regulatory policies supported by online professional and facility licence procedures, have also greatly contributed to attracting both high-quality professionals and renowned international health facilities to Dubai.

“Soon, we are signing a MOU with Dubai Silicon Oasis. They have the hub, and we are ready with the licensing part. We will create something called ‘sandbox licensing’ for those with a startup mindset and we will try to create an environment for them so that they can start their businesses and we can facilitate (tie-ups) with private and public hospitals so that they can do clinical trials. We will evaluate those startups to gauge that they are at a certain level, whether they are already doing their clinical trial in their home country or some other country. We are looking at the cardiovascular disease, we are looking at oncology, as well as trauma like orthopaedic services, rehabilitation services, because we want to meet the needs of the population. Therefore, we are looking at such startups and technologies to fill the gap.”

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