The healthcare sector in the UAE is witnessing a phase of significant growth. In fact, healthcare has become one of UAE’s largest sector, both in terms of revenue and employment. The healthcare sector is considered an ocean full of opportunities for investors which includes investments in hospitals, medical devices, clinical trials, outsourcing, telemedicine, medical tourism, health insurance and medical equipment. In its modernization and path of reform, the UAE is now evolving to focus on increasingly important public-private partnerships. Currently, the UAE is working with leading global institutions to further develop its healthcare system as part of its plan to become a major center for world-class health care in the Middle East, for not only its own residents, but those in the region as well. It should be noted that healthcare expenditure will likely see significant growth in the UAE and worldwide in 2021 as additional resources are required to reboot infrastructure for the return of elective procedures following temporary suspension of these services due to Covid-19-related restrictions.
With the increase in the number of visitors and the number of people staying in the UAE, the need for more healthcare is imminent. The health care industry is a growing industry and is no longer only restricted to treating medical illnesses. It nowadays also comprises of looking physically fit and even mental health.This makes establishing a healthcare business in the UAE a very lucrative option for people in industry and entrepreneurs all over the world. In fact, the UAE government is liberalizing policies to attract foreign investments to improve the healthcare standard and boost the healthcare industry.
The UAE has a comprehensive, government-funded health service and a rapidly developing private health sector that delivers a high standard of health care to the population. Healthcare is regulated at both the Federal and Emirate level. Public healthcare services are administered by different regulatory authorities in the UAE including the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP), Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD), the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and the Emirates Health Authority (EHA). These authorities monitor the licensing of medical professionals such as pharmacists and pharmacies, the registration of pharmaceuticals, advertising guidelines for drugs as well as other aspects of the healthcare sector. The MOHAP formulates nationwide health policies and regulates the healthcare market in the Northern Emirates. The healthcare systems of the country’s two largest Emirates, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, are governed by DHA and HAAD respectively.
In order to take advantage of the significant growth in the UAE’s healthcare sector and establish a healthcare business, it is vital to ensure that the entity is incorporated correctly, and that all of the necessary approvals have been obtained by the applicable regulatory bodies. We have set out below general guidance for setting up new healthcare business in the UAE.
For investors interested in setting up a healthcare related business, we highly recommend considering Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) or mainland.
DHCC is is the first medical free zone in the world and is known for a straightforward and smooth setup. DHCC is a target for many investors as it allows 100
% foreign ownership. In order to start a business in DHCC a few steps are required including, but not limited to, leasing a space, seeking DHA’s approval as well as registering for a commercial license with the Dubai Economy. However, these are just the procedural steps. Regulatory steps may apply such as compliance with the Medical Liability Regulation and Health Data Protection Regulation, however, this will depend on the type of healthcare business.
The Dubai Economy is the competent authority for establishing a healthcare business in Dubai. However, investors are required to obtain approval from the DHA.
Generally, the investor would first need to determine the legal structure of the business. Applicable laws prohibit 100% ownership in most healthcare sectors. Accordingly, as a foreign investor is unlikely to own more than 49% of a limited liability company. In such case, an Emirati shareholder or local sponsor would be required. As a corporate service provider, CBD can act as the local corporate partner in an LLC as required by UAE law, therefore facilitating the entire set up process and enabling the foreign investor to fully control and manage the business.
The investor will then have to approach the Dubai Economy to register the trade name, obtain initial approval and comply with the remaining requirements that may vary depending on the business type. Upon completion of the Dubai Economy steps, the investor will have to approach the DHA for approval.
Abu Dhabi requires the foreign investor to follow the same steps required to establish a healthcare business in Dubai Mainland, especially with respect to the legal structure. HAAD is the regulatory body for healthcare in Abu Dhabi, and is responsible for developing the frameworks and guidelines that ensure the highest standards of healthcare services in the Emirate.
The Sharjah Healthcare City (SHCC) offers excellent investment opportunities in the field of healthcare, especially for small to medium size entities, under convenient free zone rules and
regulations through single window service system. The process of registration is generally the same as the registration process in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as investor is required to seek the necessary approvals from the Economy Department as well as SHCC.
At CBD we have over 50 years of legal and commercial expertise in advising and assisting international organizations and entrepreneurs with their ‘mainland’ market entry (i.e. outside a UAE Free Trade Zone which is reserved for specialized activities). This includes ensuring that the business is correctly structured and holds all the correct authorisations and licences it requires to comply with local laws and regulations.
If you are looking to develop a solid, long-term foothold in the Middle East, develop an existing UAE business or replace your existing local sponsor/partner to gain more control of your business, CBD is the ideal partner for you.
For more information, contact us at email@example.com or call us on +971 (0) 45510677