The UAE’s healthcare sector has expanded significantly over the last decade, with more opportunities and growth on the cards
The nation contributed 54% of the overall healthcare trade in the GCC in 2021. To cater to this growth, where timelines and appropriate handling of products are vital, efficient supply chain solutions play a crucial role in success. From manufacturing and storage to distribution, transportation, and quality assurance, the goal is to ensure safety and reliability without compromise.
Here, Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) plays an important role for the UAE and the wider MENA region, with access to a polyfunctional seaport, specialised logistics facilities and a proven track record of handling sensitive materials under the strictest safety guidelines. For instance, in 2021, DP World partnered with UNICEF to accelerate the distribution of vaccines using Jafza’s facilities to optimise critical supply access for countries most under pressure from the pandemic.
Jafza’s progressive healthcare cluster
The free zone offers a range of services to healthcare manufacturers, from customised, purpose-built facilities to bio-hazard waste management. Furthermore, with the help of healthcare-focused logistics providers located in the free zone, Jafza offers multimodal transportation services by sea, air and land. This is alongside a customs-bonded corridor, and end-to-end logistics and storage solutions.
Over the last four years, the free zone’s healthcare sector has witnessed a seven-fold increase in trade value in terms of export. In 2021, Jafza’s healthcare companies accounted for nearly half of Dubai’s total trade volume for pharmaceutical and healthcare products. During the same year, pharmaceutical products and healthcare instruments and appliances worth AED 3.8 billion (approx. US$1.034bn) were imported, up 15% from 2020. The top 10 import markets were France, Germany, USA, Switzerland, Italy, UK, Spain, India, China, and Japan. These countries contributed to 78% of the overall imports of Jafza-based companies.
Jafza also provides an ecosystem that promotes easy business set-up. One of the major advantages for local and global healthcare companies is the ability to carry out a variety of activities, from production to packaging within the free zone.
Additionally, with the help of Imperial Logistics, a DP World company, operates a medical solutions hub in Jafza, through which customers can efficiently distribute quality medical and pharmaceutical products to communities in Europe, Africa, and Asia. The company offers 24-hour emergency response to make sure customers receive their medical supplies without delay.
Four features of Jafza’s healthcare and pharmaceuticals hub:
• Global Manufacturing Hub: Companies manufacturing vaccines, specialty & general medicines, medical & life science technology, analytical equipment & instruments, consumables & accessories, pharma products, and more can use the ready-made facilities, approved by the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention. Moreover, the availability of logistics operators providing cold-chain services to regional markets and third-party logistics (3PL) companies is beneficial for healthcare and pharma companies.
• Efficient Logistics: Jafza hosts more than 120 logistics and freight service providers operating in the healthcare sector, which moved 5,800 metric tonnes of goods worth AED 272 million (approx. US$74mn) in 2021. Companies based in the free zone achieved this by making use of logistics facilities and services including warehousing, clinical waste management, clinical supply management, labelling and packing and re-packing.
• Enhanced Distribution Networks & Market Expansion: Jafza’s proximity to the Jebel Ali Port, the region’s largest port, and Al Maktoum International Airport, helps healthcare customers offer undisrupted trade connectivity to all major destinations. Another advantage for international and regional companies in healthcare equipment and pharmacy retail distribution is the easy access to local distributors and retailers located in the free zone, supporting sales growth and relationship management.
• The UAE Edge: Companies in Jafza benefit from the UAE’s robust business ecosystem, including 100% business ownership, zero corporation tax and access to competitive utilities and labour.