337,011 ‘international patients’ to Dubai in 2018


Dubai has been vying to improve its position in medical tourism. The Gulf emirate hopes new initiatives will help attract more than half a million medical tourists by 2021.

An analysis by the DCCI and DHA on medical tourism in 2018 revealed there were:

  • 337,011 international medical tourists
  • 35,000 healthcare professionals from 110 nationalities 
  • Medical tourism revenue up 5.5% on 2017
  • Medical tourism revenue AED 12.1 billion (US$317 million)

The three main specialties used by medical travellers to Dubai were dentistry, orthopaedics and dermatology.

  • Dental treatment 46%
  • Orthopaedic services 18%
  • Dermatology 10%
  • Wellness, cosmetic surgery and fertility treatment each below 10%

The Dubai Health Experience (DXH), a portal and app that enables tourists to book online has been refreshed, and now attracts 10,000 unique visitors each month according to the DCCI and DHA analysis.  The new site includes four languages: Arabic, English, Russian and Chinese; a second medical opinion service; and a 2019 Dubai Health tourism guide.

According to the DHA, in 2018, medical travellers came from:

  • 33% from within UAE and other Gulf States, mostly from Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
  • 30% from Asia, mostly from India, Iran and Pakistan
  • 6% are from Europe, mostly the UK, France and Italy.

Historically, hospitals have only recorded patents as either Dubai citizens or international patients, and not split the latter category into expatriates living in Dubai, expatriates living elsewhere in the UAE, and genuine medical tourists.   

Earlier this year, IMTJ analysed the medical travel numbers to Dubai, and found that the figures have not increased as hoped, and the DHA stated target for 2020 of 500,000 medical tourists could now be under scrutiny.



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