HEALTHCARE’S NEW HUB

UAE, Sharjah 2017 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | FOCUS: SHARJAH HEALTHCARE CITY

Sharjah Healthcare City (SHCC) is beginning to take shape as the Emirate's healthcare sector matures.

2017 includes a number of milestones for SHCC, the Emirate's health-focused free zone. In January of 2017, HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Federal Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, approved the master plan for the development of a healthcare-focused free zone. Shortly after approval of the master plan, SHCC signed an agreement with Ahalia Medical Group for the city's first hospital. Ahalia, the first group to set up operations in SHCC, already operates three hospitals, 14 medical centers, two specialized ophthalmology medical centers, and 26 pharmacies across the UAE.

SHCC, one of the largest healthcare centers in the Middle East, covering 2.43 million sqm, is within 10km of both Sharjah and Dubai international airports. As a free zone, SHCC allows investors to enjoy 100% ownership, no tax or duties, and 100% repatriation of profit.
Hospitals outside of SHCC are excited about the development of the healthcare industry in Sharjah, since there is healthy competition will fuel innovation, quality health services, and affordable prices. The SHCC is designed to provide Sharjah's entire healthcare industry, improving the quality of life for the Emirate's residents and bringing Sharjah's healthcare industry up to speed with those of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. According to the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), Sharjah's healthcare sector was worth AED7.35 billion (USD2 billion) in 2016, and is expected to grow to AED8.8 billion in (USD 2.4 billion) by 2019. The government of Sharjah has identified the healthcare sector as a key area of the economy to develop, with a focus on medical education, research, as well as medical tourism.
Currently, the sector faces issues in retaining talent and ensuring the highest level of technology. Complementary free zones for education, dubbed University City, and research, known as American University Sharjah Research, Technology, and Innovation Park, is expected to support the SHCC's ambitions for an interconnected matrix of hospitals, polyclinics, laboratories, rehabilitation centers, wellness centers, residential units, health clubs, consultancy offices, and storage and production units of healthcare equipment and accessories.
Sharjah is partnering with outside organizations to strengthen its offering. In April 2017, SHCC signed an MoU with the Arab German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GHORFA). This memorandum follows the 10th Arab German Health Forum in Berlin. Through partnerships with industry leaders, SHCC is seeking a strong network for developing knowledge, best practices, and technologies. The MoU shows the government of Sharjah's commitment to attracting projects and investment to SHCC. GHORFA will support SHCC to identify key investors and to entice healthcare industry leaders.
Also driving the development of SHCC is the regulation of Sharjah's health insurance, and consequently healthcare demand. The Northern Emirates do not yet have full mandatory insurance policies, though the Sharjah Health Authority has taken steps to expand mandates for health insurance coverage. This trend should incentivize investment in SHCC and increase capacity of the healthcare sector. The Ahalia Hospital is the first step in the SHCC's development to increase the capacity and will add 100 beds.
Many residents of Sharjah work in Abu Dhabi or Dubai, and are insured through mandatory health insurance in those Emirates. However, the standard insurance plans do not yet cover the costs of healthcare services received in Sharjah. Should insurance plans expand to include services received in Sharjah, the subsequent increased demand for services will further amplify Sharjah's healthcare industry, providing an opportunity for Sharjah and SHCC to more seriously compete with Abu Dhabi and Dubai as the most sought-after destination for medical treatment in the region. ✖