Bahrain and India set for health trade boom amid growing GCC demand

Manama: Bahrain and India are set for a boom in health trade amid a GCC-wide increase in demand for pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

Speaking at a webinar highlighting opportunities between the two countries, Ambassador Piyush Srivastava said India’s position as the ‘pharmacy of the world’ can be further strengthened through new Gulf partnerships.

Current estimates suggest that the pharmaceutical industry across the GCC – particularly in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – is worth approximately $20 billion with demand set to increase.

Yet as many as 80 per cent of products are imported from outside the region, creating a major opportunity for healthcare exporters like India – the world’s largest provider of generic drugs – to set up shop.

Highlighting the “immense opportunities” for Bahrain as a strategic healthcare investment hub, Ambassador Srivastava said: “India has a good presence in the pharmaceutical and homoeopathy sectors in Bahrain and aspires to further collaborate by contributing to the already strong healthcare infrastructure.

“There are ample opportunities and a conducive environment for setting up manufacturing units locally in joint ventures or the public-private partnership model.”

With a rapidly growing population driving demand for new medical services and technologies, healthcare is a critical policy focus area for the Bahrain government.

In line with its Vision 2030, the Kingdom is focused on becoming a leading centre for modern medicine, offering high-quality and financially sustainable care for patients throughout the GCC region.

Earlier this year, Bahrain was ranked among top medical tourism destination in the region according to the Medical Tourism Association. Bahrain's high number of annual visitors and connection to neighbouring Saudi Arabia via the 25-kilometre King Fahd Causeway were highlighted as key factors in its ranking as a medical tourism destination.

In the next decade, the population of Bahrain is expected to reach approximately 2.2 million, an increase of 55% from 2016, driving significant healthcare and hospital bed demand. There is a significant market gap for specialised healthcare provision in fields such as haematology, genetic disorders, rehabilitation, diabetes management, gastroenterology and more.

Tala Fakhro, Executive Director, Market & Strategy Intelligence at Bahrain EDB said: “Healthcare has long been a critical focus area for Bahrain’s government, which has ambitions of making the Kingdom a leading centre for modern medicine.

“The region’s population, which has a clear unmet need in many disease areas, is growing fast, and Bahrain offers global pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers unparalleled access to this rapidly developing market.

“This is an obvious next step for the continuously evolving Bahrain-India partnership, a relationship that stretches back millennia to when the early Dilmun and Indus Valley civilisations traded pearls and spices.

“This historic trading relationship has since evolved to aluminium, iron and steel, which in turn has started to shift towards service exports, with a particular focus on FinTech and ICT.

“Now, in light of the catalytic influence of the global pandemic, the Bahrain-India partnership is once again on the cusp of exciting change.

“We share Ambassador Srivastava’s optimism regarding pharmaceuticals and medical devices, and look forward to discussing in more detail how the ‘pharmacy of the world’ can best establish business ties in these exciting fields with the Gateway to the Gulf.”




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