Time Royal Hotel, which is set to open in Dubai Healthcare City in 2017. Time Royal Hotel, which is set to open in Dubai Healthcare City in 2017.

Medical tourism in Dubai yielded revenues of around AED1.42 billion ($390 million) in 2016, up from AED1.40 billion in 2015, according to new figures.

Dubai Health Authority (DHA) said in a statement cited by state news agency WAM that the number of incoming wellness tourist arrivals amounted to 326,640 in 2016, a 9.5% growth over the previous year.

Since Dubai Healthcare City opened in 2002, medical tourism has been high on the agenda of the Dubai government. But since the launch of its medical tourism vision in 2014, when plans were announced to attract half a million medical tourists by 2020, statistics from Dubai Health Authority (DHA) revealed that in 2015, there were 630,831 medical tourists (including domestic and international patients). Of them, international tourists numbered 298,359, accounting for 46% of the total traffic.

According to Medical Tourism Wellness Council consultant Linda Abdulla, medical tourism is playing a significant role in boosting Dubai’s economy by attracting visitors from all across the globe. “This could potentially boost the economy by AED 2.6 billion (US $0.71bn) a year by 2020 with an increase in the annual revenue by 13% every year in the next four years,” she said.

The emirate is now "a sought-after destination for recuperative tourism", said Dr Layla Al Marzouqi, director of the DHA Medical Tourism Council.

Ages of wellness tourists who visited medical facilities in Dubai from outside the country ranged from 25 to 45 years, she said, noting that the medical specialties that were in heavy demand were orthopedics, dermatology and ophthalmology.

"The DHA's strategy is premised to boost the emirate's competitiveness and enhance its position on the global medical tourism scene," she said.

Dubai aims to attract more than 500,000 medical tourists by 2020.

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