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Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – That change is sweeping this nation is perhaps one of the greatest understatements of all time.  The building boom, most celebrated in Dubai, is in evidence in other thriving Emirates such as Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

For those of you who are not familiar with this new Hong Kong, here is a little background:  The UAE is a Middle Eastern federation of seven states situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman and Saudi Arabia.  The seven states, termed emirates, are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain.

A financial center for the world, commercial hub for the Middle East, oil exporter, and a thriving tourist destination: these are all elements that make the UAE one of the most exciting developing regions in the world today.  Medical tourism is becoming another component of this robust economy.


Dubai1990-full Dubai-now

While Dubai enjoys the vast majority of the world’s attention for its spectacular architecture and rapidly expanding skyline, as evidenced by these dramatic before and after photos of its skyline – from 1990 to 2003 — it is Abu  Dhabi that is the center of power and oil reserves.  As the largest of the Emirates, Abu Dhabi is the Capital of the Emirates.  It is a city of nearly 1 million residents the vast majority of whom are expatriates. This dynamic capital is far more resident-friendly than the glitzier yet more congested city of Dubai.


Al Ain, the ancient oasis city, is the ancestral home to many of the rulers who now oversee the seven Emirates. With its slower place, less congestion and lower cost of living, this charming city is home to seven palaces for members of the ruling families.

Sharjah is an expanding economic power in its own right.  It is also fast becoming a home city of choice for executives who work in Dubai.

Healthcare organizations, such as Harvard University Medical School, Johns Hopkins, Cleveland Clinic and Methodist International of Houston, are participating with the government and private companies to support the development of state-of-the-art healthcare facilities.  This will enhance the quality of patient care for the region and will, in all probability, the UAE join Bangkok, Singapore and select destinations in India, as a prime medical tourist destination.

This emerging new world medical center will be part of another change in the global economy: a trade deficit in healthcare!  While most analysis shows that more people come to the U.S. for healthcare than go abroad, there are studies that suggest that will slip dramatically within five years.  

Our Firm, JohnMarch Partners, is playing a role in the early development of this new medical center for the world.  We have been engaged to identify and recruit three Chief Medical Officers as well as Clinical Chiefs for a wide range of medical specialties, including Orthopedics, Ophthalmology, and Dermatology. 

Today, the primary focus for UAE government officials is on enhancing quality of care for Emiratis through the recruitment of U.S. healthcare professionals and the affiliation of major U.S. healthcare providers.  A foundation is being established for international healthcare excellence and recognition.

Judging by how quickly the skylines of Dubai and the capital city of Abu Dhabi have grown, it is a foregone conclusion that medical tourism in the UAE is a phenomenon that will become fact sooner rather than later.