Why is Arab Health the place to be?

With more than 4400 exhibitors from 70+ countries, Arab Health 2017 in Dubaï strengthens its challenger position in world largest medical technology congresses. International and cosmopolite attendance to the congress is notably explained by the access infrastructure to the United Arab Emirates: the Dubai International Airport offering over 270 destinations worldwide is the busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic.

The attractiveness of Arab Health is also – and of course! – explained by the business opportunities for the healthcare industry in the Middle East: the population is rapidly growing and ageing and lifestyle induces increase incidence of chronic cardiac, pulmonary and metabolic diseases which increase healthcare demand.

When geopolitics and oil trade drive the healthcare market

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the biggest market of the Gulf Cooperation Council with more than 31 million inhabitants in 2016. Oil accounts for a major part of Saudi Arabia government revenues (70 to 80%) so versatility of oil price impacts directly investment capabilities of the country. In 2015 income from crude exports reached 445 billion riyals (119 bn$ - 73% of total revenues) and decreased to 329 billion (88 bn$) in 2016. This has been reflected on the healthcare market by a lower number of government-funded infrastructure projects.
Saudi Arabia expects oil revenue to jump to 480 billion riyals ($128 billion) in 2017 and many Arab Health exhibitors confirmed a higher number of potential projects in discussion. Nevertheless optimism for 2017 along with the necessity to maintain quality standard of the domestic healthcare system should not forget the impact of the military operation in Yemen on government budget allocation.

The Rising Iran on the Horizon

Iran is the second major market of interest for healthcare in Middle East. Iran has around 80 million inhabitants – continuously growing significantly – and population is very young: the healthcare demand will increase with the growing and aging population. Iran also possesses the world's second largest reserves in natural gas and 4th proven oil. The lifting of sanctions has theoretically opened the Iranian economy and one can forecast that oil and natural gas exports will increase government revenues and its capacity to develop the public healthcare sector. However Iranian and international political environments are unsettled and few exhibitors at Arab Health are able to predict when untapped Iran healthcare market will completely open.

Market research in Middle East markets are challenging but The MarkeTech Group has already conducted some projects for customers so do not hesitate to contact us if you have specific questions on business opportunities in the Middle East.

Romain Labas, Ph. D.
Partner, Senior consultant