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Sharjah 2020 | HEALTH | INTERVIEW

The digital revolution underway in the healthcare sector has not skipped over Sharjah, affecting everything from patient records and software-enabled diagnostic systems to telehealth, robotic surgery, and e-pharmacy.

Abdulla Ali Al Mahyan
BIOGRAPHY
Abdulla Ali Al Mahyan heads the Sharjah Health Authority and Sharjah Healthcare City as the chairman of both authorities, while also being a member of the Sharjah Executive Council. He graduated in business management and administration in 1994 and started his career with different government authorities and free zones in various capacities. In 2010, when Sharjah Health Authority was formed, Al Mahyan was appointed chairman of the authority and took over the responsibilities of establishing a proper healthcare system in the Emirate as well as promoting healthcare-related FDI into the Emirate.

How would you assess 2018 in terms of business prosperity and healthcare output?

With new hospitals under construction, existing facilities expanding, and ambitious plans to improve the quality of treatment available not only for residents but also the growing number of medical tourists, the UAE has a competitive healthcare sector, especially in 2018. Active participation of both local and international private investors in healthcare has helped the success of the healthcare business.

Sharjah already has several important free zones with numerous healthcare institutes. What is the current state of SHCC?

With the growing population of Sharjah and adjoining Emirates, the latter of which alone is expected to reach 2.7 million inhabitants by 2025, there is an acute need for more healthcare facilities. The supply of specialized surgery and cancer centers, advanced diagnostics, and rehab and cardiac care centers is limited and represents an excellent opportunity for investors. As per the latest reports, Sharjah's healthcare market potential is projected to reach AED5.6 billion by 2020. Understanding this huge potential, SHCC is all geared up to attract investors. Currently, we are completing our clinical building, where the leasing is expected to start by 2020. For hospitals and other projects, land leasing has already commenced.

What is your strategy in terms of attracting foreign direct investment to SHCC?

As part of our strategy, we focus on both international healthcare institutions, investments, and homegrown brands. Gaining the support and trust of homegrown establishments adds value to this project. The strategic location of the project matters, as it is approximately 20km from Dubai International Airport and close to Sharjah International Airport. It also well positioned in between the two national highways. The other competitive advantages SHCC offers are reasonable charges and fees, a single-window service system, and transparent and easy regulations. The zone also offers other free zone advantages, like zero taxes and duties, repatriation of capital and profits, 100% business ownership, and a customer-friendly environment with all the desired infrastructure.

How does increasing digitalization affect the healthcare sector in Sharjah, and how are you implementing the usage of AI in SHCC?

Technology plays an important role in healthcare and will impact the role of decision making for regulators as well as healthcare providers. The digital revolution has touched on all facets of healthcare. It is in line with the UAE vision 2021. The revolution ranged from paperless patient records and software-enabled diagnostic systems for quick detection of infectious diseases to telehealth, robotic surgery, and e-pharmacy. SHCC's infrastructure will be developed according to these trends, and we advise all our tenants to follow the digital revolution.

Which medical areas currently exhibit the most potential for healthcare tourism in Sharjah?

Overall, our healthcare services support health tourism in Sharjah, though we are seeing a greater demand for specialized facilities such as cardio centers, diabetic management centers, day surgery centers, neurology and oncology centers, wellness centers, and so on. These will be additional attractions for health tourists. Sharjah already attracts many tourists from across the world; more healthcare institutions operating in the Emirate will definitely boost health tourism.

What sets UHS apart, and what is your outlook for the overall sector in Sharjah?

UHS' continued commitment to patient safety and care has successfully earned it a re-accreditation by the Joint Commission International (JCI), distinctively putting UHS at the forefront of excellence.