Saudi Arabia initiates healthcare sector investment reforms, liberalizes rules

Posted on 2nd December 2014

Saudi Arabia has introduced new rules that aim to further liberalise the country’s healthcare sector and open it for increased investments, local media reported.


As per the new regulations, experienced healthcare professionals will be allowed to move freely within institutions in the Kingdom in an effort to improve efficiency.

The amended regulations will also allow citizens who are not healthcare professionals to run hospitals in the country. Previously, only Saudi doctors or healthcare professionals were allowed to operate and manage medical institutions, local daily Saudi Gazette reported.

In addition, the new rules will also allow global healthcare companies to invest in Saudi Arabia, the ministry of health said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia’s healthcare market, although growing steadily, has been largely restricted by local ownership rules that earlier required all hospitals to be owned 100 per cent by Saudi firms or Saudi doctors.

According to a report by law firm King & Spalding, foreign investors in the past were permitted to set up hospitals in major cities with a minimum of 150 beds and in rural areas with at least 40 beds. This effectively barred non-Saudis from owning clinical centres in the Kingdom.

However, the new regulations aim to widen the investments to the healthcare sector. Saudi Arabia has been upping its healthcare expenditure to cater to a booming population and a growing prevalence of lifestyles diseases.

The country allocated about Dh 106 billion of its 2014 budget for healthcare purposes, up eight per cent from its spend in 2013. Saudi Arabia is also expected to be the largest healthcare market in the GCC, accounting for 58.2 per cent of the total market in 2018, according to a report by investment bank Alpen Capital.

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