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The growing wellness trend in Dubai
Dubai is set to become the home of world’s largest wellness development, but why?
Part of Dubai Healthcare City in the Al Jadaf area, the new Wellness Village, operated by WorldCare, will offer environmentally friendly living spaces alongside a Wellness Centre focusing on the prevention and management of diseases.
Living spaces will include a personalised spa and exercise facilities, while the medical services are aiming to tap into a global trend of “preventative healthcare, taking into account local and regional healthcare demands and demographic changes.”
“The concept of wellness spans more than just physical health. It includes mental and spiritual health, and incorporates more areas than traditional medicine, with a focus on holistic health.”
Beth McGroarty, Research Director at the Global Wellness Institute (GWI)
Proactive on prevention
Beth McGroarty, Research Director at the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), says a key element of wellness is that it “involves personal responsibility and proactive choice, rather than waiting for sickness and reacting with procedures and pills.”
“The concept of wellness also spans more than just physical health. It includes mental and spiritual health, and incorporates more areas than traditional medicine, with a focus on holistic health,” she continues.
Greater use of such holistic health and prevention ideas – including by traditional medical providers – has been driven by the high growth in chronic conditions globally, such as diabetes and heart disease, says McGroarty. Mental wellbeing is also a growing focus for wellness provision, as rates of depression and anxiety have increased, she adds.
While wellness is often associated with alternative approaches that may lack evidence to support their effectiveness, holistic health and prevention are concepts increasingly used by conventional medical providers.
The GWI’s latest Global Wellness Economy report shows that the 21% wellness tourism growth in the Middle East and North Africa has been focused in the UAE. During 2015, tourists made 1.7 million trips to the UAE, spending US$2.7bn.
Beth McGroarty says that a growing middle-class has led to a greater global interest in fitness, healthy food and stress reduction. Workplace wellness activity is also growing, with more programmes to help workers stay healthy at work internationally.
As wellness has gone global, McGroarty says there has been a shift towards “indigenous practices.”
“If you are in a place, you want to explore those local health traditions, such as spa experiences or the local food,” she says.
In 2014, the Dubai Health Authority launched its Dubai Medical tourism strategy, seeking to create leading elective health and wellness treatments through investment in and improvements to the quality of services.
A key part of this strategy, the Dubai Healthcare City is made up of two phases; phase one is dedicated to healthcare and medical education and phase two – where the new Wellness Village will be located – occupies 22 million square feet and is focused on wellness services.
The wellness centre at the heart of the village will provide diagnosis and treatment plans, and a range of patient programmes “built around patient education and lifestyle change.” It is expected the project will be operational by 2020.