Member of the Board of Directors, Dubai Healthcare City Authority
Executive Director, Dubai Healthcare City Authority
About Marwan Abedin
Marwan Abedin is the CEO of Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) and serves as executive director and member of the Board of Directors of Dubai Healthcare City Authority, the legislative body of the free zone.
With expansion plans underway to cover 19 million sq. ft. of wellness concepts in Phase 2, DHCC is recognized as the world’s largest healthcare free zone. The current operational Phase 1, dedicated to healthcare and medical education, covers 4.1 million sq. ft.
The Emirati CEO drives DHCC’s vision to position itself as an internationally recognized location of choice for quality healthcare, wellness, and medical education and research.
He is responsible for spearheading expansion, contributing to the development of the health sector and implementing the Dubai government’s medical tourism initiative.
Prior to his appointment in September 2012 by the Chairperson of Dubai Healthcare City Authority Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, Marwan held key positions in the UAE finance industry for more than 15 years.
Over the course of his career, he was the CEO of the Dubai Financial Support Fund, an entity formed under Royal Decree, leading operations in collaboration with its Board of Directors and the Supreme Fiscal Committee. He was the director of Debt Management at the Department of Finance – Government of Dubai, responsible for treasury and debt issues of public sector entities and liaising with the government’s Legal Affairs Department.
In March 2012, he was nominated as member of the Board of Directors of global property developer Emaar Properties PJSC by the Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Al Jalila Foundation, a not-for-profit organization under Royal Decree, and Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation (Amaf), a Dubai government department responsible for the legal supervision over the Awqaf, its care and investment, as well as the well-being of minors.
Marwan serves as committee member of the Bretton Woods Committee, the U.S.-based nonpartisan network of prominent global citizens in Washington, District of Columbia, and of the Association of Corporate Treasurers (ACT) – Middle East, the leading body for treasury and finance professionals. He is also a member of the Economic Club of New York, the premier public forum in the U.S.
He was the first UAE national to qualify as the General Securities Registered Representative (Series 7) by the largest independent securities regulator in the U.S. – the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), previously the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD).
Marwan earned a Bachelor of Economics in Political Science from Wake Forest University, North Carolina. He enjoys photography and is an aspiring art collector.
About Dubai Healthcare City
Launched in 2002 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) is a free zone mandated to meet the demand for high-quality, patient-centered healthcare.
Through strategic partnerships, DHCC brings together a wealth of services in healthcare, medical education and research, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, wellness and allied support.
Located in the heart of Dubai, DHCC comprises two phases. Phase 1, dedicated to healthcare and medical education, covers 4.1 million sq. ft., and Phase 2, which is dedicated to wellness, will cover 19 million sq. ft. Development in Phase 2 is underway.
DHCC, overseen by the Dubai Healthcare City Authority, operates through four divisions: Healthcare; Education and Research; Investment; and Regulatory.
Medical Travel Today (MTT): Give our readers some information on your professional background.
Marwan Abedin (MA): Currently, I serve as both a Board member and CEO of Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC).
My educational background is not in medicine or health sciences, but rather business and finance.
I was previously employed as CEO of a government entity called Dubai Financial Support Fund. I had been appointed to that role by His Highness, Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, who is the crown Prince of Dubai. Then, I was tasked to my current position to reposition DHCC in the marketplace.
Established approximately 12 years ago, DHCC was conceived by the Ruler of Dubai – Sheikh Mohammad – to be a Center of Excellence (COE) for medical care, education and medical research.
I would like to see DHCC play a larger role in Dubai’s economy, and at the same time, position the COEs to act as self-sustainable models.
At this point in time, we are restructuring all of our current arrangements. We are in the process of setting up the Mohammad Bin Rashid University for Medicine and Health Sciences and re-launching a university project, Mohammad Bin Rashid University Hospital.
The university is set to offer students a wide-range of academic medical programs and postgraduate programs.
The Dental College, which already exists, is scheduled to receive 50 students during its first year in the College of Medicine, in addition to higher education students who specialize in dentistry.
Moving forward, the next university we would like to establish is a nursing institution where we can train and educate students based upon the best quality standards.
MTT: In terms of quality and outcomes, how does Dubai compare to other locations globally?
MA: The majority of Dubai has government-led health regulations.
DHCC is a healthcare free zone, which encompasses around 25 million sq. ft. All of the facilities that operate here do so in a regulated medical center.
I try to focus more on specialized medicine rather than general hospitals. For example, one of the deals we are working on now consists of establishing a 250-bed hospital to primarily treat cardiology and neurology cases.
Currently, Mediclinic — a South African group — is building a $200 million dollar unit here, which will be the first private oncology hospital in Dubai.
The government of Dubai spends anywhere from $300-400 million dollars a year to send its local patients overseas for treatment that is not yet readily available here. Surprisingly, only 40 percent of the high expenditure is for medical costs, and the other 60 percent is linked to travel, family escorts, etc.
Financially, it makes sense for Dubai to further develop its healthcare – not only to benefit local patients, but also to attract global patients here for treatment.
MTT: Is Dubai a safe place for Americans?
MA: I would consider Dubai to be safer than most places.
I was born and raised in Dubai, and although it is very different today than it was while I was growing up, it is still just as safe and as comfortable.
This country has always been considered a safe haven, in part due to the regulations and security forces we have in place. Dubai is very multicultural and primarily consists of resident expatriates who, for the most part, live in peace. For years, Pakistani and Indian residents have been feuding, yet those Pakistani and Indian individuals living together in Dubai are friendly neighbors.
Most importantly, I would like to emphasize that Dubai Healthcare City is home to the Mohammad Bin Rashid Academic Medical Center. This particular education and training institution is approximately two story’s tall and encompasses a [simulated] emergency department, high and low fidelity simulation mannequins, a triage section, an ICU section, operating rooms, etc.
We have worked with several institutions in the U.S and U.K., including Harvard and Cambridge Universities, both of which have provided courses and continuing education programs to help our medical professionals keep their licenses up to date.
Medical travel is a new industry in Dubai, and while we are working hard on its development, we are also very focused on the regional markets.
We do have some exciting collaborations with the U.S. taking place. For example, we are a sponsor of Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s show on CNN – Vital Signs.
MTT: Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?
MA: In Dubai, we have mandatory health insurance, which has been helping the market to evolve.
Also, I am aware that many international locations have become increasingly interested in bundled payment pricing. I think it is necessary for Dubai to strategize and figure out how we too can take advantage of that option.