THE GREATEST WEALTH

Sharjah 2015 | HEALTH | FOCUS: HEALTHCARE CITY

The Government of Sharjah has embarked on the construction of Sharjah Healthcare City (SHCC), which will see the Emirate transformed into a world-class center for healthcare.

A variety of demographic and socio-economic factors are contributing to an increasing demand for healthcare services in Sharjah. The Emirate's growing population, set to reach 2.3 million by 2020, is putting a strain on existing facilities, and it is estimated that Sharjah alone will need at least 633 beds in addition to the existing 898 beds by 2016. The growing proliferation of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, coupled with cancer, road traffic accidents, and congenital abnormalities, has resulted in a greater need for specialized services. Combined with a higher GDP per capita that allows additional spending on healthcare, these factors are driving demand for healthcare services and thus investment, thereby growing Sharjah's nascent healthcare sector.

In light of this projected growth, Shurooq, Sharjah's Investment and Development Authority, has estimated that the Emirate's healthcare sector will enjoy a 9.3% market size growth rate between 2012 and 2018. The Sharjah Healthcare Authority (SHA) expects the healthcare market to grow from the current $1.25 billion to $1.78 billion in 2016. Currently, only a few players operate across the sector's value chain, which leaves ample opportunities for foreign investors to tap the potential of the market and capitalize on the growth of the sector.

Established in 2012 by an Emiri decree issued by HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, with the objective of transforming and enhancing the regional healthcare service industry, as well as establishing Sharjah as a preferred destination for healthcare services, SHCC will go a long way in coping with the increased pressure on existing healthcare services, as well as the greater demand for specialized, hitherto non-existent, healthcare services, such as specialized surgery centers, rehabilitation centers, cardiac care centers, and neurology centers.

Designed as a free zone, SHCC will be constructed on an area of approximately 240 ha conveniently located less than 10km away from both Sharjah International Airport and Dubai International Airport. It will offer a wide spectrum of investment opportunities, such as the lease of land to investors who are looking to develop healthcare facilities. Another venue for investment will be prebuilt core and shell units in which laboratories and clinics can be established. SHCC will also cater to medical equipment manufacturers looking for warehouses to either store or assemble their products. Additionally, there will be an abundance of offices and business centers. SHCC also provides room for more leisure-focused facilities, such as wellness centers, health clubs, sports facilities, and spas.

SHCC, which is regulated and supervised by the SHA, will allow investors to have 100% ownership of their corporate entity, as well as guaranteed freedom from taxes and duties. Moreover, capital and profit will be 100% repatriable. All the necessary documents and licenses can be obtained through a single-service window, which will significantly reduce the hassle for investors.

As HE Abdullah Ali Al Mahyan, Chairman of SHA, points out, “SHCC represents an excellent opportunity for investors." To cultivate this opportunity in order to foster the influx of investors to SHCC, “the Authority has set out to achieve the highest level of investor friendliness." In doing so, it has managed to garner attention for SHCC from several Asian countries, as well as the United Kingdom and South Africa.

With construction ongoing in SHCC, it is expected to become the UAE's largest healthcare facility upon completion. Its emphasis on world-class infrastructure, its strategic location, and the benefits that befall investors who set up their operations in the zone, make that SHCC is well positioned to serve not only Sharjah's healthcare sector, but the entire region for decades to come.