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GCC to pump $9.5b in healthcare sector



Muscat: Gulf countries are likely to invest about $9.53 billion on new hospital projects and for upgrade of medical facilities by the year-end, up 25 per cent over 2013, said a report. Saudi Arabia is among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries forecast to triple healthcare expenditure across the region, reported the Emirati state news agency WAM.

The kingdom is spending more than $23 billion to upgrade its hospitals and improve its medical facilities. One of the most high-profile projects is the $1.7 billion King Abdullah Medical City in Makkah  that will have 1,500 beds in total, 500 of which are allotted for specialist referrals, said the report, citing a Frost & Sullivan study.

Dubai plans to attract 500,000 patients for treatment by 2020 as part of its drive to become a hub of medical excellence in the region and bring a new stream of visitor revenue.

In line with this plan, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) will be constructing 18 new private and four public hospitals over the next few years.

According to the report, the UAE has doubled its healthcare budget since 2007 and currently ranks among the top 20 destinations for medical tourism.

The country spends 3.3 per cent of its GDP on healthcare, the third highest in the GCC, it added.

In neighbouring Kuwait, the Ministry of Health has awarded a $938 million contract for the construction of three buildings making up a new hospital, including an ER facility.

The country is also investing in new facilities, including the $1.26 billion New Jahra hospital project, currently under tender for construction, said the report.

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