TBY talks to HE Dr. Raja Al Gurg, Vice-Chairperson and Executive Director of Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA), on how the dynamic free zone model of Dubai Healthcare City is leading as a health and wellness destination.

HE Dr. Raja Al Gurg
HE Dr. Raja Al Gurg has carved out a unique niche for herself in the region due to her support and encouragement of Arab women entrepreneurs. She is the President of the Dubai Business Women Council, Vice Chairperson and Executive Director of the Dubai Healthcare City Authority, and Board Member of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) and Dubai Women’s Association. She is the first Emirati woman on the board of HSBC Bank Middle East Limited and is also on the advisory board of Coutts Bank, the wealth division of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. She is the Head of the Auditing Committee at the Federal Customs Authority and a Board Member. She is also on the Board of Trustees for the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, one of the largest development and community foundations in the Middle East. Dr. Al Gurg was listed among 'The World's 100 Most Powerful Arab Businesswomen' for 2015 by Forbes. She has a degree in English literature from Kuwait University and obtained a doctor of literature honor from Amity University, India.

DHCA released its Annual 2015 Operational Review, showing a stronger YoY performance. What were the main projects and developments that drove that growth?

As a dynamic free zone model, we strive to achieve the right balance between governance and providing an enabling environment. In 2015, the DHCA reaffirmed its commitment to enhancing the health system of the Emirate in line with the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Integral to driving this vision is expanding the Emirate's health industry and transforming it into a global medical hub. In 2015, the free zone remained on track, registering growth of 28% in clinical offerings and increasing specialties by 68% compared to 2014. Growth was achieved through the introduction of operational sectors dedicated to education and investment and by forging strategic partnerships with public and private entities. Among projects that drove performance in 2015 was a JV between Dubai Healthcare City and Nshama to establish an integrated community, named Al Fursan in DHCC's Phase 2 expansion. Another milestone was the announcement of AMICO, a leading company in the medical device industry, relocating its headquarters by 2017 to DHCC Phase I.

How does DHCA plan to deliver a more robust regulatory framework to attract qualified healthcare professionals?

Our competitive advantage has always been a strong regulatory framework that is responsive to changes in the healthcare industry. Our outpatient clinic quality standards are accredited by the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua), the only organization that 'accredits the accreditors.' In 2015, we developed and implemented several regulations such as expanding the list of countries recognized for professional licensing as well as new policies for pharmacies and insurance companies.

What is your outlook for the health sector in the medium to long term?

The Dubai Plan 2021 has put great emphasis on healthcare as it seeks to create a 'City of Happy, Creative and Empowered people,' whose residents are 'educated, cultured, and healthy,' who can take proactive measures to manage their health and enhance their skills and ability to contribute to the economy and society of Dubai. In this context, a world-class healthcare system that focuses on prevention and wellness is paramount to driving the country's development. Case in point, the three new projects in Phase 2; Al Fursan, Clemenceau Medical Center, the first hospital in the expansion, and WorldCare Wellness Village. In the coming years, DHCC will introduce healthcare concepts showcasing innovation that can deliver on the aspirations of the UAE government and its people.

What is DHCC's role in delivering medical education?

Our education project, the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU), will be a game changer in the regional medical education scene and a project that aims to develop a sustainable workforce in the UAE and the region. The MBRU has two Colleges: Hamdan Bin Mohammed College of Dental Medicine for dental postgraduates and College of Medicine for medical undergraduates. In due course, we will see the Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai, Dubai's first ever private school to offer multilingual education with a scientific focus­—located in DHCC's Phase 2—strengthen the medical education ecosystem with future medical students.