Arab countries, especially those bordering the Persian Gulf, present an attractive opportunity for the healthcare industry as populations and per-capita incomes grow rapidly, life expectancies rise and doctors diagnose more lifestyle-related diseases, according to a 2015 Deloitte report.
Healthcare spending represented 4.8% of Saudi Arabia's gross domestic product in 2013 and 3.5% of the GDP of the United Arab Emirates, according to the report.
So it's no surprise American healthcare companies this year are expected to send their largest contingency ever to the annual Arab Health exhibition and congress. Their presence reflects U.S. healthcare companies' increasing interest in emerging markets such as the Middle East. Last year, Omar Ishrak, CEO of Dublin-based medical-device maker Medtronic, said he believes the developing world will represent a $7 billion market opportunity by 2019.
GE Healthcare, Philips, Siemens, Mount Sinai Health System, Mayo Clinic and a number of other providers, medical-device makers and equipment suppliers are expected at the conference in Dubai next week.
More than 250 American companies will be exhibitors, a third of which are presenting in Dubai for the first time.
The region could also become a hot spot for information technology suppliers: Healthcare providers in the Middle East and North Africa were expected to spend $2.73 billion on IT products and services in 2015, according to a report from Gartner, a Stamford, Conn.-based IT research and advisory company.