What are the latest developments at the Ajman site?
We started in Ajman with the Gulf Medical University (GMU) in 1998, which will soon be transformed into a full-fledged university with engineering, management, and architecture programs. From a student capacity of 2,000, the university's student capacity will soon reach 4,000. Our student body includes over 75 nationalities, and our faculty members are from over 25 countries. We have patients coming from 175 countries. We are also building three hospitals within the campus. One is a teaching hospital with about 550 beds, which will be the largest private academic hospital in the country. We are building a dental hospital with 60 chairs for the dental college of GMU, not to mention a state-of-the-art rehabilitation center that will be one of the best in the region. Our focus is mainly on sports medicine and neurology. We are also trying to get FIFA approval for the rehab center. The dental and rehab hospitals should be ready by September 2017, the main hospital should be ready by January 2018. All of these hospitals are related to the university and will provide healthcare services in addition to teaching and training the students. We also have hospitals in Sharjah, Dubai, Fujairah, and India. We will also soon open new hospitals in Oman and Ghana. Our dream is to have global presence.
What role do partnerships play in the growth of Thumbay?
Our agreement signed with Ethiopian Airlines is part of the medical tourism project. Our hospitals have dedicated beds for medical tourism. We have representative offices in about 40 countries in Africa to bring in patients. Thumbay Hospital Ajman has 50 beds reserved for medical tourists. The dream is to have over 1,000 patients per day at our hospitals through medical tourism. This will take about five or six years, but we will make it happen.
How would you describe the healthcare framework in the UAE?
According to the statistics from the Ministry of Health, the private sector represents around 62% of the healthcare industry in the country. In the UAE, there are three authorities for healthcare. The Ministry of Health is related to the Northern Emirates, Dubai has the Dubai Health Authority, and in Abu Dhabi there is the Abu Dhabi Health Authority (SEHA). All three encourage the private sector to participate in the development of the services. We are the only company that provides the whole range of healthcare, from education to research.
How do you incorporate innovative methods and systems in all of your business lines?
Of the many things we have done in the past, no one has done anything similar in the country. No one has set up a teaching hospital or a private medical university. We have held conferences with many leading institutions around the world such as the Howard Medical School, Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Clinic, Hertfordshire, the NHS in England, the University of Budapest, Lublin University in Poland, Cairo University, Tokyo University, KPG in Malaysia, the National University in Singapore, and Bocconi University in Italy, among others. We are well connected and have built these relationships over the past 20 years.
What are the main factors needed to succeed as an investor in the Middle East?
The UAE is safe, and the government is encouraging businesses to come from all over the world. This kind of support cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Our dream is to replicate our business model in other countries or continents, such as Africa. We are thinking of launching a project in Ghana to expand upon our operations in Nigeria, Cameroon, Tanzania, and Kenya.
What legacy would you like to leave?
One is to have a global presence. The other is to have 30,000-40,000 people working for the company. This is a type of business that will continue to contribute to people's lives for generations.