According to the Government of Dubai, under a recent MoU signed by the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention and the Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza), the UAE is looking to attract international pharmaceutical firms, with investment of up to AED 2bn (approximately US$544mn) annually. Such investment is aimed at transforming Dubai – Arabian Ethical’s (AE) home city – into a regional hub for medical tourism as the country prepares for the post-oil era.
“Arabian Ethicals was established in 1977 in Dubai as an agent for pharmaceutical and medical equipment, alongside consumer health products. Over the last 40 years, AE has grown to become a major distributor for many multinational brands such as Merck Serono, Acino, Sandoz, Ferring, Himalaya, API, Medpharma, Avalon, Dr. Theiss, Naterra, Lohman, Norbrook and many others specialising in a wide range of pharmaceutical, consumer, and veterinary medicine,” reveals General Manager, Rawhi Al-Khatib.
“AE is a part of a larger regional Group, Aban Investments, which has a presence in various industries such as chemical manufacturing, oil and gas, retail, F&B, IT, and digital office imaging and office services, with a strong financial capability. Currently, AE has offices and pharmaceutical standard logistical hubs in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as well as regional distribution partners,” details Al-Khatib.
While AE is based out of the two most populous cities in the UAE, its scope is not limited to them. “We actually cover the entire UAE from these two hubs, which operates a large fleet of MOH licenced vehicles and qualified sales teams. We cover various channels including pharmacies, government sectors, hospitals, clinics, retailers, veterinary clinics and animal farms in the UAE, and we have a strong appetite for growth regionally,” explains Al-Khatib.
“The development of the healthcare market in the UAE, and the ongoing government initiatives to attract international renowned healthcare players and manufacturers, has been a key factor to AE growth. Alongside this, the support of the government to build state-of-the-art healthcare insurance systems and relevant healthcare facilities, with best-in-class technology infrastructures, has created a favourable environment for the growth of the UAE healthcare market.”
In 2016, the market value of pharmaceuticals in the UAE amounted to AED 9.61bn (US$2.6bn), according to figures published by the Government of Dubai. Furthermore, the Government of Dubai predicts that by 2020, spending on medicine is expected to reach AED 13.13bn (US$3.5bn) and by 2025 AED 21.74bn (US$5.9bn), driven by population growth – a 21.9% increase is predicted from 2015 to 2030 – alongside changing morbidity and the use of modern medicines such as biotechnology drugs. Such trends are reflected across the region, with the MENA region projected to grow by 8.8% year-on-year from 2015-2020 in the pharmaceutical sector, according to a recent report by Business Monitor International.
Such growth has resulted from many major players entering the UAE market in recent years. “More pharma businesses and pharma manufacturing investors came in, alongside the emergence of chain pharmacies in this part of the world, for example Aster, Life, Boots and Bin Sina. These pharmacies are now contributing up to 70% of the pharmaceutical retail business in the UAE,” comments Al-Khatib. “All of this helps grow the market and the business for us, and we will continue to complement our portfolio with new innovative brands and healthcare related technologies.”
As part of its mission, AE aspires to provide high quality products and outstanding service to its clients in various fields. “We are certified by the UAE Ministry of Health, Dubai Municipality and relevant Ministries, alongside being ISO certified. Our internal bylaws are governed in-line with industry standards, as well as our internal code of ethics. We have effective HR and quality assurance departments, which perfects and supports our operations,” notes Al-Khatib.
Moreover, this dedication by AE to its goals is reflected in the relationships the company enjoys with its business partners. “We want to develop long-term, sustainable relationships with our suppliers and customers. We strive to build our business around our core values which are respect for people, excellence in all aspects of the company, customer focus and satisfaction, transparency and communication, honesty and integrity, and building trust at all levels,” reveals Al-Khatib.
Continual focus on development
The high level of training offered to AE staff is a reflection of its parent company, Aban Investments. “It’s a priority and an ongoing focus for the Group to remain competitive and as an employer of choice. We have a learning and development department, talent acquisition team, alongside motivation and incentive systems. We are constantly investing in the latest technologies and applications in order to keep on developing staff experience and build new skills,” says Al-Khatib.
AE’s high standards and the employees maintaining them have been key to the company’s success over the past 40 years. “We are a 40-year-old company, but we are the most dynamic and young organisation at heart. Diversity and Inclusion are at the heart of our business that makes AE unique. Our international and cross-cultural team experience brings in diverse different talent,” Al-Khatib details.
“We have over 150 employees from 25 different nations, experiences and backgrounds. This makes us an international and dynamic team working under a local guidance umbrella,” advises Al-Khatib. “We are forever evolving to meet the expectations of our stakeholders. Therefore, we are investing in new technologies and infrastructures, especially in logistics and distribution, as well as in our people.”
Al-Khatib continues: “Supported by Aban Investments, we plan to bring innovative healthcare businesses and investors into the region and the UAE specifically. As part of our organic growth strategy, we are currently expanding our distribution footprint in the GCC and the Middle East,” Al-Khatib explains.
“Being a local Emirati Company, we have a social responsibility towards our country and community. Therefore, we strive to work closely with relevant health authorities and our business partners to continuously create health awareness in our society and bring innovative affordable medical solutions to combat prevailing illnesses in this part of the world especially obesity, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.”