In Saudi Arabia, rising demand for healthcare due to population growth and increased requirement for specialised services plus government initiatives look set to drive expansion and open new doors for investors. 

1. Population

Currently, healthcare services in Saudi Arabia are based on a young demographic profile, where 70% of the population is below the age of 40. If we fast-forward to 2035, the population will still be considered young, but the population over 40 years of age will increase significantly and this will impact the healthcare demand dynamics;

  • Over 40s & less than 59 are set to increase by 150%.
  • Over 60s are set to increase by 300%.

With a multiplier effect on the population over the age of 40 and 60, requirements for healthcare services will need to broaden and take into account:

Care related to lifestyle and non-communicable diseases; normally starting in people in their 40s, e.g. cardiovascular, diabetes, obesity and rheumatoid arthritis.

Geriatric related care, rehabilitation, home healthcare; as immunity and activity beyond the age of 60 is generally low.

Proactive healthcare, anti-aging services and regenerative medicine; for those who are more health aware and conscious of their appearances as they age.

2. Healthcare facilities

Healthcare facilities in the Holy and economic cities are lower than the national average and significantly lower than the global average. These facts create a business case for the establishment of additional healthcare facilities. 

Economic cities (Jeddah and Riyadh)

These cities generally have better healthcare infrastructure than the rest of the country. Lower infrastructure density and the existing strain on healthcare resources presents opportunities for additional beds, centres of excellences, specialised and niche healthcare services commonly found in developed metropolises.

Holy cities (Makkah and Madinah)

Private healthcare facilities in these cities can be classified as basic, with potential for upgrade. With the relaxation of visa requirements, these cities should strongly consider the introduction of medical tourism to complement their religious tourism. 

3. Forecasted demand

To keep pace with population growth, Saudi Arabia would require an additional 5,000 beds by 2020 and 20,000 beds by 2035. Based on global average bed density, in 2016, Saudi Arabia was faced with a gap of 14,000 beds and this gap is expected to widen to 40,000 by 2035 using the same yardstick.

The healthcare space in Saudi Arabia presents itself as a sector with high growth opportunities. To ensure long-term success it is important to carefully study the market, identify gaps and be willing to continuously embrace technological advancement.