Dubai visas: Hospitals offer all-inclusive packages that include entry, treatment and stay

The emirate saw remarkable growth in medical tourism in 2022, with 674,000 medical tourists spending Dh992 million — an increase of Dh262 million from 2021


Sahim Salim


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Mon 1 May 2023, 1:30 PM

Last updated: Tue 2 May 2023, 6:33 AM

Several hospitals in Dubai can facilitate the issuance of medical visas to tourists seeking treatment in the city, a top Dubai Health Authority (DHA) official has said.

“We have the facility for medical tourism visas that is provided by hospitals and it's only exclusive to them,” Mohamed Al Mheiri, director of Health Tourism Department at the DHA, told Khaleej Times in an exclusive interview.

Those wishing to stay in Dubai for treatments can approach hospitals directly for these medical visas. According to Al Mheiri, the facilities can determine the length of stay required by the patient and a bystander depending on the treatment they are undergoing. “No limit has been placed on the (duration) … of the visa, and the hospitals can determine that based on the medical conditions and treatment required,” he said.

Dubai saw remarkable growth in medical tourism in 2022, with 674,000 medical tourists spending Dh992 million — an increase of Dh262 million from 2021.

Al Mheiri said several hospitals offer an all-in-one package that includes treatment, stay and visas. “Some of the facilities have different packages, whether they want to focus on cosmetics, dental, dermatology, orthopedics or wellness,” he said. “All of these packages are available. As a promoting arm to those healthcare facilities, DHA focuses on creating initiatives that would support them and promote their services.”

Dubai in One Day

Al Mheiri referred to the ‘Dubai in One Day’ scheme that was announced during Arab Health 2023 in January.

The campaign, which provides medical packages to tourists, has seen a “huge positive” response, said the DHA official. “When people come to the city and they have one or two days, they are on their phone looking for what to do,” he said. “When they see there are things related to the health aspect that they can utilise, they are opting to go for it.”

According to Al Mheiri, the DHA has worked with private medical facilities as part of this campaign to offer packages that are lucrative and attractive. “Dubai can be seen as an expensive destination due to the luxury it offers. We are working with our healthcare providers to benchmark the prices of the different packages to support this initiative.

You can get all the information about the packages and tests they offer on the website of Dubai in One day. It is an authentic platform and easy to use. Once the tourist inputs their details, the facilities will get in touch with them to confirm the appointment.”

On the website, visitors have the option of choosing from various packages in several specialties including dental, gynecology, wellness and orthopedics. The campaign also offers a second medical opinion package and other services, including airport services and a Dubai orientation programme.

Al Mheiri said there are strict rules for medical facilities that wish to be part of the campaign. “They need to have the capacity of serving quality service treatment,” he said. “We want to focus on the quality of service and the outcome for the patient. It is also a great way to showcase what kind of world class medical facilities we have in the city to tourists.”

The medical tourism experience in Dubai

The city had established the Dubai Health Experience back in 2016. The brand is used to promote health, tourism and medical tourism. “At the time we started, we had around 30 healthcare facilities that joined as members of the campaign,” said Al Mheiri. “Today there are more than 100 facilities that are promoting health and medical tourism.”

The official said Dubai’s role as a central destination has influenced a lot of international healthcare brands to set up in the city. “Dubai is a popular destination and it is very convenient for people to visit,” he said. “So, it is an ideal location for any international brand to open in the destination. And we can see that the figures are increasing year by year and the number of facilities are increasing as well.”

According to latest figures, the three specialities that saw the highest number of medical tourists were dermatology (31 per cent), dentistry (24 per cent) and gynaecology (18 per cent), with most of the patients coming from Asia.

“People from the Philippines, Pakistan and India are the top performing nationalities followed by those from GCC countries,” said Al Mheiri. “This is followed by those from European countries.”


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