About Wajdi Al Daghma, M.D.
Dr. Wajdi Al Daghma joined Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) in January 2013 as the managing director of Investment and Business Development, and was promoted to his current role of chief operation officer (COO) less than a year later in 2014.
In his capacity as COO of the world’s largest healthcare free zone, Dr. Wajdi is responsible for company strategy and operations at DHCC.
He leads business development, marketing and communications, business technology, and human resources. He is responsible for strengthening the brand value of DHCC in the government, and public and private sectors.
Dr. Wajdi combines healthcare acumen and business credentials with 15 years of specialized-industry experience, spanning a wide base of geographies.
Prior to joining DHCC, Dr. Wajdi was the regional director of Welchallyn MENA, Turkey and Greece, where he was responsible for strategic planning and expansion in several territories across the Middle East and Europe in 2012.
During his tenure at Siemens Healthcare, Dr. Wajdi started as Regional Sales manager for the Lower Gulf Region in 2004, and was appointed vice president of Imaging and Therapy, covering the Middle East and Africa region in 2010.
His responsibilities included leading strategy development and implementation, sales and profitability, as well as marketing management, pricing strategy and customer retention.
Early in his career, Dr. Wajdi held a number of advisory roles, including tenures at the Modern Pharmaceutical Company, Hospitex UAE and Mafraq Hospital, where he started as an orthopedic doctor.
Dr. Wajdi earned a medical degree from Martin University, Slovakia. He holds a Marketing and Advertisement certificate from the London College of Management. He has also completed management and leadership courses, including the Siemens AG Management Course from Harvard University.
A passionate diver and seaman, he is committed to marine ecology. He champions inclusive education for children with special needs.
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): Describe your position with Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC).
Wajdi Al Daghma (WAD): I joined DHCC as the managing director of Strategy Business Development in 2013. As of 2014, I am the chief operating officer.
MTT: Can you update us on the development of healthcare in Dubai?
WAD: I am happy to say that the future of healthcare is finally moving in the right direction.
In collaboration with other institutions in Dubai, DHCC serves as a key component in the progression of this nation’s healthcare sector. At this point, all of the organizations involved in Dubai’s future growth are performing well ahead of the initial strategic plan that was laid out.
DHCC is a free zone, providing the ideal atmosphere for individuals to initiate and build healthcare facilities that meet local and international patient demands.
Our strategy is built on three major drivers: medical education, healthcare excellence and research.
In an area of roughly four million sq. ft., we have over 4,500 professional doctors and nurses practicing here. As of December 2014, we are home to more than 130 clinical facilities, which are spread across different Centers of Excellence, represented through 90+ specialties.
MTT: Are patients traveling internationally to Dubai specifically for healthcare?
WAD: Absolutely. Patients are seeking treatment in Dubai because this location offers the infrastructure, innovation, safety and regulatory environment, and geographic proximity to allow the industry to thrive.
In 2013, DHCC had approximately one million patient visits – 15 percent of which were medical travelers.
Within the first six months of 2014, we have documented more than 600,000 patient visits, equivalent to a 20 percent increase, and aim to achieve the same growth annually going forward.
Recently, we have been slowly and steadily approaching the North American and Asian markets, but would like to first finalize our original vision by supporting our growth here.
MTT: What makes Dubai an attractive place for patients to seek care?
WAD: Dubai has been a leader in the tourism industry for the past 15 years, and as I previously mentioned, Dubai already has the infrastructure and entertainment required to attract individuals.
Keep in mind, all Emirates rely on international airlines, which allows for unlimited access to Dubai.
We are also a recognized hospitality center, hosting a variety of high-quality hotels and services. Dubai is aiming to attract more than 20 million tourists by 2020.
MTT: Can you detail any information about the research you are involved in?
WAD: The research I am involved in is conducted by different universities, and is generally a very long process.
One of our leading business partners is Al Jalila Foundation, a non-profit organization that: collaborates with UAE and international strategic partners to promote early detection; facilitate medical treatment; provide academic scholarships; fund groundbreaking research; champion healthcare awareness programs; and foster a culture of excellence in medical education and research. The Foundation has created a very interesting research program that studies five major diseases that prevail in the UAE and the region. For research focus, the foundation has identified five medical health issues – cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity and issues related to mental health.
MTT: Are there any American healthcare professionals who work with DHCC?
WAD: We have many partners who have an American background.
For example, the American Academy of Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery is key to the cosmetic and plastic surgery industry in Dubai.
We also have a reputable musculoskeletal clinic here, Dubai Bone and Joint Center, where many American doctors come to practice.
MTT: Do the healthcare facilities in Dubai record outcomes?
WAD: Yes, some hospitals individually record their outcomes, but not to the extent that the facilities in the U.S. or other countries do.
But we do monitor performance. DHCC is overseen by the legislative and governing body the Dubai Healthcare City Authority.
MTT: Are you currently working with any U.S. employers?
WAD: Yes, we have had several discussions with a U.S. technology partner and a U.S. education partner to help grow DHCC.
To put things into perspective, DHCC is home to some of the world’s most reputable pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies.
MTT: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
WAD: DHCC greatly values its reputation, and we guarantee the best services for our business partners.
Investors can capitalize on three different models. They can rent an existing facility, lease land, or buy land and build a facility themselves.
There is no tax for income on land, and we already have a full registration and licensing precedent in place.
DHCC is a one-stop shop for an investor who is willing to expand well beyond their home country.