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Exploring the challenges for medical tourism in the United Arab Emirates during the Covid-19 pandemic era: a stakeholder perspective

Ahmad A. Okasha (School of Environmental Health Sciences, Canadian University Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Farooq Haq (Faculty of Management, Canadian University Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Anita Medhekar (School of Business and Law, Central Queensland University, Brisbane, Australia)
Naveed Yasin (Department of Entrepreneurship and Creative Industries, Canadian University Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes

ISSN: 1755-4217

Article publication date: 6 December 2022

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper explores medical tourism development challenges in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) pre- and during Covid-19. Medical tourism is becoming a dynamic, rapid growth area and an engine of economic development.

Design/methodology/approach

In-depth interviews were conducted with medical tourism professionals. Fourteen medical tourism stakeholders were interviewed from 1 January to 31 January 2020. Qualitative thematic analysis was applied on medical tourism challenges before and during the pandemic.

Findings

The major themes indicated concerns for medical tourism in the UAE and they included higher medical services costs and a shortage of highly qualified medical expertise. The emerging themes related to the challenges of coping with Covid-19 and strategies to attract medical tourists.

Originality/value

This study contributes towards (1) the theory of medical tourism, (2) the related limited prior published work on this topic relating to the UAE and (3) the importance of medical tourism in today’s tourism industry. Additionally, there are theoretical and practical implications for medical tourism stakeholders in terms of attracting inbound medical tourists to the UAE from other countries during the Covid-19 crisis and in the post-pandemic situation.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank the Canadian University of Dubai for support in organizing the medical tourism forum on campus with the medical tourism professionals and expert group. The authors would also like to thank researchers Iva Bulatovic and Katia Iankova for collecting primary data.

Citation

Okasha, A.A., Haq, F., Medhekar, A. and Yasin, N. (2022), "Exploring the challenges for medical tourism in the United Arab Emirates during the Covid-19 pandemic era: a stakeholder perspective", Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/WHATT-10-2022-0119

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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