Leadership from two important healthcare institutions in Dubai discuss the social dynamics of the Emirates evolving healthcare system.

Thumbay Moideen
Founder and President
Thumbay Group
Dr. Abdulkareem Sultan Al Olama
Al Jalila Foundation

What are your organizations doing to develop the medical sector in Dubai?

THUMBAY MOIDEEN Being a teaching hospital, we have lots of patients enter the hospital because the prices are cheaper in our hospitals, yet we manage to maintain our superior quality nonetheless. We make our services affordable, allowing more patients to receive treatment. Directly, every Emirate wants us to come, including Abu Dhabi, and the insurance companies want us to come, too. Affordable healthcare makes a huge impact on the community. In our case, our new strategic plan is to ensure that our university is fully research based in the next five years. We are working towards that, and right now we are raising funding through our own company. Our foundation is currently funding our research department with over 10 million dirhams, but we are hoping in the future that more funds will come in. We are taking a lot of initiatives in the private sector, and we aim to actively collaborate with the government on this.

Dr ABDULKAREEM SULTAN AL OLAMA We believe that supporting homegrown medical talent is just as important as developing state-of-the-art infrastructure, and we are proactively doing this with a number of scholarships, grants, and fellowships. Scientists can receive up to AED 300,000 in seed grants to fund medical research projects; our fellowships support Emirati medical students to train at some of the most prestigious medical institutions around the world to bring global best practice back to the UAE; and our scholarships enable Emirati healthcare professionals to further their specializations. While we invest in the future health of the UAE, we value the importance of supporting those in need today. Our A'awen (“support" in Arabic) program provides access to quality healthcare for those who cannot afford it, and we have helped many patients reach their true potential by funding life-changing treatments. Meanwhile our Ta'alouf (“harmony" in Arabic) program trains the parents and teachers of children with special needs to understand their children better and act as therapists themselves, a model which is highly sustainable.

How do you see the sector developing in the years ahead?

TM The government's strategic plan for Dubai aims to turn the Emirate into a hub for medical tourism. Being in the private sector, we were the first business to take this initiative. We started five years ago, and we were planning on being an example for other countries, to bring in their people for medical tourism. Today, we are bringing in people from over 20 countries, and right now we are targeting countries with a shortage of healthcare, for example on the African continent or Afghanistan. Medical tourism does not only mean good healthcare, it also means good prices. India is a fantastic country for healthcare, but the issue there is the lack of strong supportive infrastructure, such as we have in the Gulf.

AO Developing effective medical research and sustainable healthcare is a long-term process that requires significant resources. We are grateful for the support we have received from generous corporates and individuals so far. As a Foundation that is fully funded by donations, we are thrilled to see more philanthropists and business leaders eager to join Majlis Al Ata'a, a national movement launched in 2014 to support the sustainable development of a thriving medical research sector in the UAE. Visionary leaders are lending their financial capabilities and influence to support medical research for the long-term. This continued support will enable Al Jalila Foundation to facilitate cutting-edge research. Looking ahead, we are optimistic about the future. Our rulers have named 2015 the “Year of Innovation," and we will help to make this happen by driving innovation and progress in healthcare to benefit current and future generations.