What is the overall contribution of Mediclinic Middle East to the company's operations?
We have 54 hospitals in southern Africa, 18 in Switzerland, and own a 30% stake in Spire Healthcare in the UK with 39 hospitals. Meanwhile we have seven hospitals and 20 clinics in the Middle East. We contribute around 26% to Mediclinic's revenue worldwide. We are the third or fourth largest in terms of market share.
What is your assessment of sector-related policies in Dubai?
Looking at the past 14 years, which is how long we have been in the UAE, regulations have certainly improved and ensured that the healthcare environment has more control. More regulations have come into effect, such as the introduction of mandatory health insurance, and a more ethical market has taken shape. In 2019, the government also created the Dubai Health Post Office, which is a portal through which all our payments are processed. It has created the e-Prescription initiative, where all pharmacies seek approval, payments are processed, and e-authorization for healthcare services is obtained. Abu Dhabi has a new Department of Health, which has a healthcare advisory board that I sit on. The plan is to eventually have one national unified medical record, which will be fantastic.
In that mid- to upper market, has there been a shift toward preventative care?
That seems to be a more observable trend globally; almost half of healthcare expenditure goes to preventative health and wellness. Executive medicals are a large business line, and people are trying their best today to stay healthy and out of surgery. In our business, we do executive medicals and are starting a precision medical laboratory where you take the gene sequencing of an individual and give them specific medication based on what their genes indicate a shortage of. The next step is called microbiome, where bacteria in your stomach are looked at to determine what is missing so that you do not need antibiotics. This can tell you specifically which bacteria are required to ensure you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
What are your priorities for the next two years?
First, it is important to note that the economic environment of the UAE is under strain. The economy has certainly changed over the past three to four years, as has the mix of the people in the UAE. The reality is that Dubai has already diversified, and Abu Dhabi will diversify still further. There are big attractions to bringing in major manufacturing companies and huge incentives in place. The UAE has become a country where receivables are on the rise. We have obviously been here for a long time; we are positioned in a certain way, have a strong balance sheet, and are listed on the London Stock Exchange. While we are not committing to major new investments currently, we do have a significant number already being worked on. The first one is Mediclinic ParkView Hospital, which we finished in September 2018 and is doing well. We opened it because we felt we needed a hospital nearer to the Expo 2020. Our other major project is Mediclinic Airport Road Hospital in Abu Dhabi, which is under expansion to double in size. The new extension should open early 2020. These two projects alone, Parkview and Airport Road, have added 40% capacity to our business over the past two years. We do expect some consolidation in the industry due to regulatory changes and prevailing economic conditions. We are well-positioned to embrace this. We bought the Majid Al Futtaim clinics last year and Bourn Hall, the original pioneers of IVF over 40 years ago. They invented that technology and are present in the UAE under a franchise arrangement. We are focusing more on and moving our business toward preventative and precision medicine. That will be a key focus for us over the coming years, as well as embracing other innovations.