All you need to know about health care in the GCC

In the midst of an expanding and aging population, and the increasing frequency of lifestyle diseases; the healthcare and medical sector is a fast-emerging priority for countries members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). In addition, countries are also looking to improve the Health Care in the GCC as a way to reduce or eliminate their dependency on oil production.

In this article, we will make sure you understand everything you need to Health Care in the GCC as well as its importance for this decade. Similarly, by the time you are finished reading the article, you will understand the agenda and predictions for 2022. On the other hand, you will understand what each country is doing in this area.

Table of contents

  1. GCC countries
  2. Healthcare predictions for GCC countries for 2022
  3. Healthcare in Saudi Arabia
  4. Bahrain’s healthcare industry
  5. The United Arab Emirates
  6. Healthcare in Oman
  7. Healthcare in Kuwait
  8. Requirements for health care in the GCC
  9. Quality of health care in the GCC
  10. Why ConnectHealth is the best link between medical professionals and healthcare companies in the UAE?

      1. GCC countries

All GCC governments are passing reforms to improve their health care systems as well as introducing changes to regulations focused to enhance the quality and efficiency of the different services. Similarly, the current spending in GCC countries is projected to reach US$ 105 billion in 2022, this is an improvement from the expenditure in 2017; US$76 billion.

That is to say, this implies a CAGR (Compound annual growth rate) of 6.5%, according to a GCC healthcare report of 2018 conducted by Alpen Capital.

Similarly, government authorities have performed as both operators and investors of Health Care in the GCC. However, since there is an increased involvement and participation from private operators; the role of government bodies is being adapted to regulators and policymakers only.

In addition, strategies such as the UAE Vision 2021, the Saudi Vision 2020, and National Transformation Plans (NTPs), are summarizing long-term plans of governments trying to create capacity to grow their markers and expand the role of private health care companies.

 Thus, the ongoing investment in these sectors is expected to create a massive demand for medical supplies and equipment, pharmaceutical products, healthcare professionals, and hospital services; easing the demand on the public sector.

In addition to the mentioned investments, customer-focused services will play an increasingly key role in the development of the GCC’s; and the health care sector with patient experience will become a top priority for both private and public players.

Similarly, there is an influx of medical tourists; patient needs, as well as major developments in technology, are emerging as the main drivers for the expansion of the GCC medical and healthcare landscape.

      2. Healthcare predictions for GCC countries for 2022

  • Average health inflation will remain at around 4%.
  • Healthcare expenses are projected to reach US$ 105 billion.
  • The in-patient market will contribute to 43% of healthcare spending.
  • Clinic market size is also expected to grow to US$ 32 billion.
  • Countries of the region are expected to require 12,400 new hospital beds.

      3. Healthcare in Saudi Arabia

The country implemented its plan Vision 2030, this is a plan for transforming and driving the Saudi economy away from its reliance on oil and the public sectors; it was revealed in 2016. After that, the specific focus of the Vision 2030 plan was summarized in the release of the Saudi National Transformation Plan (NTP).

In the same vein, healthcare is one of the main focal points of the NTP and Vision 2030. That is to say, the KSA’s healthcare strategy under the NTP placed the area on a fast route to growth and privatization over the coming years.

Similarly, areas established in the NTP for the Ministry of Health for the next year include:

  • Expanding private health care expenses from 25 to 35% of national healthcare expenses.
  • Increasing the number of licensed medical facilities from 45 to 105
  • Decreasing the percentage of obesity and smoking incidence by 1% and 2% from baseline respectively.
  • Increasing the number of health care visits per capita from 2 to 4.
  • Increasing the number of internationally approved medical facilities.
  • Improving the quality of therapeutic and preventive healthcare services.
  • Doubling the patients receiving health care after long-term hospitalization and critical care within 4 weeks from 25 to 50%.
  • Increasing the focus on digital healthcare solutions.

      4. Bahrain’s healthcare industry

Under the country’s Economic Vision plan for 2030, which was presented in 2008, all citizens of the country will have access to the highest quality health care. Similarly, this is focused to put the country in a leading center for modern medicine in the region; thus, offering financially sustainable and high-quality healthcare in the region.

In addition, this will provide patients with the right to choose private or public providers that meet all international healthcare standards. In addition, Bahrain’s Vision 2030 outlines and sets a plan for the healthcare system of the country; providing benefits for its rapidly aging and growing citizens and addressing important areas.

In addition, the government will play an important role in enhancing the healthcare system among the following areas:

  • Encouraging and promoting a healthy lifestyle.
  • Granting quick, equitable, and easy access to the highest quality health care.
  • Ensuring the regulation and laws of the healthcare system with an independent health regulator.
  • Retaining, attracting, and developing healthcare talent and encouraging ethics among all healthcare workers.

      5. The United Arab Emirates

Providing the best Health Care in the GCC is one of the 6 pillars of the National Agenda according to the UAE Vision 2021. Similarly, this was revealed by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum; Prime minister and vice-president of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in 2010.

In addition to this agenda, the government of the country will work and collaborate with all health and medical authorities to have all private and public hospitals approved. That is to say, they will also collaborate to have international and national standards of staff and medical services.

In the same vein, the previously mentioned agenda focuses on the importance of preventive medical services and is focused to reduce lifestyle-related diseases and cancer. Moreover, reducing the prevalence of smoking and increasing the readiness of the healthcare system to deal with health risks and epidemics.

Similarly, the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to measure the presence of the health care targets for the next year include:

  • The number of deaths from cardiovascular illnesses per 100,000 people.
  • The commonness of obesity and diabetes amongst children.
  • Prevalence of smoking any tobacco-related product
  • The generality of approved healthcare facilities.
  • Number of nurses per 1,000 population
  • Average healthy life expectancy
  • The number of cancer deaths per 100,000 people.
  • Healthcare Quality Index
  • The number of physicians professionals per 1,000 people.

      6. Healthcare in Oman

The branch of the Ministry of Health of Oman called the Center of Studies and Research revealed a long-term plan back in 2014 known as “Health Vision 2050 for Health Research”. In addition, this aims to make the country a regional medical leader and a research focal point of world standards in health research.

Similarly, its main focus is to facilitate, promote, and conduct high-quality research on local health priorities; this way they will improve health-care services and will enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of Oma’s healthcare system. Thus, reducing health inequity, and contributing to socio-economic development.

According to Oxford Business Group, Oman’s 9th five-year strategy, running from 2016 to 2020; will focus on building integrated medical cities for the healthcare industry. Further, restructuring medical education, investing more in human resource development, and boosting massively healthcare spending of the country.

      7. Healthcare in Kuwait

Certainly, the development plan established by the government of the country, “Vision 2035”; focuses on shaping Kuwait into a financial, institutional, and cultural leader reducing its dependency on oil.

That is to say, the reform of the healthcare industry is crucial to this plan; thus, the government has started implementing several reforms looking to enhance the services in the healthcare system. In addition, this plan aims to develop national capabilities at a reasonable cost.

Similarly, the main healthcare targets for 2035 are:

  • Enhancing the quality of healthcare services.
  • The attenuation of chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
  • The increase of bed capacity in hospitals all across the country.

      8. The regulatory environment

As healthcare expenses in countries of the GCC and new services, treatment options, and healthcare facilities enter the market, the healthcare regulatory structure in the GCC must adapt and shift to support these changes.

For instance, in Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Health is the main regulator for all the healthcare sectors. On the other hand, the Ministry of Defense as well as the National Guard keeps its own standards. However, the country is currently liberating its regulation and laws; thus, encouraging foreign participation in the sector with the chance for investment to accelerate in the next years.

In other words, the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHP) is the federal health main authority in the UAE. That is to say, after the setting of individual emirate-based health care authorities by Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the principal focus of the MoHP changed to the Norther Emirates such as:

  • Fujairah.
  • Ajman.
  • Sharjah.
  • Umm Al Quwain.
  • Ras Al Khaimah.

For example, the Department of Health-Abu Dhabi is in charge of; quality control, licensing, and regulating all healthcare professionals and healthcare facilities in the emirate.

Similarly, the Health Regulation Sector (HRS) of Dubai; is responsible for guidelines, standards, developing regulations. In addition, the government body is also in charge of licensing healthcare professionals, and facilities in Dubai.

However, in Bahrain, the Ministry of Health supervises Bahrain’s clinics and specialized healthcare centers, and the network of public hospitals. Similarly, National Health Regulatory Authority was divided into a separate entity in 2009; and is responsible for inspecting private and public healthcare facilities.

In the same vein, it is also responsible for licensing medical personnel and medicines, as well as addressing all complaints. However, in 2012, Bahrain created the Supreme Council for Health; in charge of all strategic planning of making every public sector hospital autonomous in the country.

      9. Requirements for health care in the GCC

As we have already learned, each GCC member has already implemented healthcare regulations for foreigners or has announced their intentions to do so. For instance, Bahrain revealed a new health insurance system for its entire population in 2019.

Likewise, Kuwait presented a new series of strategies requiring all foreign workers and visitors to purchase local insurance. However, legal requirements in Abu Dhabi are more specific; the ex-pats must insure themselves if they have earnings of AED 5,000 monthly; either by the basic plan the state has or another approved insurer.

In the same vein, Dubai is similar, foreign workers making under AED 4,000 monthly must be ensured under the CEP (Care Essential Plan) sold by the official state insurer. In addition, workers must know that the cost of healthcare insurance falls squarely at their feet.

      Quality of health care in the GCC

The GCC countries have strict requirements and rules about healthcare, but it is important to know that the quality of these services is very high. For instance, the UAE is highly considered in terms of the quality of their medical facilities, and professionals in both the private and public systems.

 However, it is true that private facilities in the regions are regarded as the best, but public hospitals have well-deserved respect for their quality of care.

That is to say, private healthcare in the GCC is common for ex-pat workers, where finding an English-speaking doctor is simple. And if the employee or their family is to give birth during their stay in the country, they will be properly looked at and highly treated with top medical care.

      10. Why ConnectHealth is the best link between medical professionals and healthcare companies in the UAE?

We understand that the future of Health Care in the GCC is bright. In addition, every country member of the Gulf Operation Council is working towards a developed, efficient, and innovative healthcare industry.

In ConnectHealth we bring together healthcare organizations and the brightest medical and health professionals; thus, strengthening the UAE’s healthcare system. In the same vein, this will increase equity and provide opportunities for top underemployed workers.

We are the link between hundreds of thousands of medical professionals looking for jobs in the UAE with healthcare companies.

That is to say, if you want us to start helping you or if you just have additional inquiries; you can get in touch by emailing us at Or you can also call us at +971 433 16 6. Either way, you will talk to one of us, patiently answering all of your questions.

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