Arab Health 2013 Day One: Healthcare Opportunities Abound in the Middle East

The city of Dubai was shrouded in morning fog as the beehive of last-minute exhibit preparations reached a crescendo on the show floor. Yet the day turned bright and blue as the sun chased away the haze and the doors swung open for day one of Arab Health 2013

Ambassador Corbin addressed the U.S. Pavilion on the opening day of Arab Health 2013.

In the U.S. Pavilion, U.S. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Michael H. Corbin kicked off the American participation with a ribbon cutting (red, white, and blue streamer, of course) and an energetic speech that exuded the friendship we have with this Arab state. Corbin also inspired the gathered group with a portrayal of the Emirati people as those who seek out and value made-in-the-USA-branded products and services. It’s clear we can do business here in healthcare—lots of it! It may require some occasional cultural adjustments and patience, but opportunities abound.

I spoke with one person, a non-Arab expatriate here, and asked her to describe the business potential in Dubai. Her simple one-word answer: Excellent. In fact, of the approximately 2 million people in Dubai, less than 20% are native Emerati. Most are foreign nationals doing business in one market sector or another. Projected healthcare spending in the region will hit $133 billion within 5 years, and there were 420 health projects launched in Saudi Arabia alone last October.

Floor traffic picked up steadily throughout the day as attendees toured booths from nearly every medical device manufacturer around the world and many major hospital systems (including Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and University of Chicago Medical Center). Exhibitors are showcasing everything from hi-tech surgical suite equipment suspended from the ceiling to “med bars” (apparently an edible medicine delivery method). Although U.S. presence among exhibitors is strong, the number of companies from China surged 40% from 2012, to 428.

Don Beery is president of Blendon Group Consulting and executive director of the West Michigan Medical Device Consortium. Check back throughout the week for more of his posts from Arab Health 2013. 

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