Abu Dhabi to Establish Financial-Free Zone

Financial-free zones are expected to provide a boost to the medical tourism industry in Abu Dhabi.

Financial-free zones are expected to provide a boost to the medical tourism industry in Abu Dhabi.

The Abu Dhabi government plans to set up a financial-free zone on Al-Maryah Island, mimicking the success of similar initiatives in Dubai, Qatar and Bahrain, where foreign companies were allowed to establish businesses fully operational under international law and financial market regulations.

Al-Maryah Island already has 50 international and local establishments since the zone was developed by the Mubadala fund in 2007. The new free zone, Abu Dhabi World Financial Market, will cover a total area of 1,680 square kilometers on the island, according to Federal Decree 15 of 2013, and will be the emirate’s fifth free zone, following Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi, media hub twofour54, Masdar City, and Abu Dhabi Airport Free Zone.

All the Rage

Government authorities are hoping the tax-free zones, which have become all the rage of nations determined to boost the combined revenues related to tourism and healthcare, will foster economic development, investment in healthcare infrastructure and international of excellence; establish world-class clusters of hospitals, life sciences and medical research and education; and serve patients locally, regionally and internationally.

The announcement comes on the heels of a decision by DNA Health Corp., a U.S.-based integrative health and wellness specialist, to open its first overseas flagship center on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island next month. The center is targeting both the region’s residents and visitors looking for a different approach to personalized health and wellness.

“Abu Dhabi is the first step of our phased five-year plan for global expansion, and we are looking at opening similar DNA Centers in Saudi Arabia and Turkey within the next 12-18 months,” said Dr. Nasim Ashraf, chairman of DNA Health Corp., who introduced the company’s 21st century model for preventative healthcare, dubbed the DNA Center for Integrative Medicine & Wellness, before a panel of senior executives at Arabian Travel Market earlier this month. “We chose to launch in the UAE capital as it is a hub for the region, is well served by numerous international carriers and an emerging destination of distinction for health and wellness tourism.”

According to hospitality research consultancy SRI, the global wellness tourism market is estimated to be worth more than US$106 billion. DNA Health’s philosophy is to deliver the highest standards of U.S. healthcare protocol based on integrative, functional and lifestyle medicinal approaches for the treatment of chronic disease, healthy aging and lifestyle management.

The center will offer personalized lifestyle medicine programs based on a holistic approach uniting leading-edge Western medicine, advanced diagnostics and clinical therapies, complemented by centuries-old Eastern healing traditions and philosophies.

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