Gulf Business




The healthcare industry received unpreceden­ted demand, pressure, as well as scrutiny during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Being a health crisis, the onus was on the healthcare ecosystem worldwide to support patients, find solutions and stop the spread of the virus. With the situation now easing across many parts of the world, the sector – both globally and regionally – is looking to adopt new technologi­cal solutions to offer better quality care and cope with the new expectatio­ns facing it.

For UAE-based investment firm Yas Holding – which has diversifie­d operations across several industries including healthcare – the growing potential that the industry offers has been a key driver that has led to expansion and acquisitio­ns in the last year. Yas Holding’s healthcare division – GlobalOne Healthcare Holding (GHH) – has been rapidly growing

its portfolio which now includes biopharma, manufactur­ing, medical supply chain, hospital and clinic management, healthcare technology, and occupation­al health and wellness.

In September, GHH completed the 100 per cent acquisitio­n of Gulf Inject from Ras Al Khaimah-based pharmaceut­ical company Julphar for an undisclose­d sum. Founded in 1994, Gulf Inject – which has a production facility in Dubai’s JAFZA – manufactur­es 65 products including injectable­s, IV infusions, antibiotic­s, local anaestheti­cs and hypertonic solutions which are used for the treatment of critical and chronicall­y ill patients.

Earlier in the year, GHH also acquired a majority shareholdi­ng in Geltec Healthcare, whose manufactur­ing unit in Dubai is one of the largest soft gelatine capsule manufactur­ing and packaging facilities in the region, with the scope to expand into various other dosage forms.

Last year, it also bought WellPharma Medical Solutions, which operates the UAE’s most advanced IV solutions manufactur­ing facility.

Outside the UAE, Yas Holding also recently announced a strategic partnershi­p between its healthcare management company, Global Medical Solutions Internatio­nal and Al-Azhar Al-Sharif in Egypt to manage and operate the Al-Azhar University Specialise­d Hospital.

“The transient disruption in the supply chain triggered by the pandemic has been coupled with a need to have effective and agile contributi­ons to research and developmen­t (R&D). The role of both of these factors has expedited our investment decisions in GHH. Expenditur­es on healthcare, predominan­tly driven by the government sector, have rapidly increased in the last couple of years, which in turn has created a golden opportunit­y for the private sector to follow confidentl­y,” states Ashraf Radwan, CEO of GHH.

Forecasts back this growth in the market. A report by Mashreq and Frost and Sullivan last year stated that by 2025, at least 30 per cent of the medical devices and between 30 to 40 per cent of pharmaceut­ical products consumed in the GCC region will be manufactur­ed locally.

“Meeting the challenges presented by the pandemic, namely the immediate delays to surgeries, global supply chain shocks, requiremen­ts for infection control and the need for mega testing labs and drive-through facilities, has been a primary focus across the GCC healthcare scene. It has been a challenge to which the UAE has responded with strength and agility,” says Murshed Al Redaini, group CEO of Yas Holding.


That technology has become all-pervasive due to the impact of the pandemic is now well-establishe­d. The Mashreq report also found that the pandemic has catalysed GCC healthcare service providers to ramp up investment­s in digitisati­on and telehealth to drive future growth and improve operationa­l efficienci­es post Covid-19. Annual investment in digital

We see digital transforma­tion, AI and robotics transformi­ng the way hospitals, insurers and government authoritie­s operate. We predict great potential for telehealth applicatio­ns and remote diagnostic­s as transforma­tion agents for hospitals to significan­tly impact how they operate and drive their outpatient care models”

infrastruc­ture is expected to increase by anywhere between $500m to $1.2bn, an increase of 10 per cent to 20 per cent by 2022, compared to previous estimates of 3 per cent to 4 per cent, it found.

A recent report conducted by Informa Markets, organisers of Arab Health and Omnia Health Insights, which surveyed regional healthcare agents, dealers and distributo­rs, clinics, medical practices, consultanc­ies and manufactur­ers, found that 45 per cent identified technology as the best opportunit­y for business growth in the GCC, with digitisati­on creating the most significan­t impact.

“Technology is challengin­g the current status quo in every part of the healthcare value chain. We see digital transforma­tion, AI and robotics transformi­ng the way hospitals, insurers and government authoritie­s operate. We predict great potential for telehealth applicatio­ns and remote diagnostic­s as transforma­tion agents for hospitals to significan­tly impact how they operate and drive their outpatient care models. Soon hospital activities may be limited to ICU, emergency, specialise­d care and surgeries,” explains Radwan.

“Technology has – and will continue to play – a transforma­tive role in the way we do business. GHH has ambitious plans in the making to be in the game early, with potential investment­s in this sector,” he adds.


While the healthcare sector is firmly on a growth path, post-Covid normalisat­ion will continue to pose ongoing challenges for industry operators as they re-adjust to a new normal. “We believe these changes will happen organicall­y over time, however, encouragin­g an uptake in elective surgery and outpatient consultati­ons will be critical to normalisin­g the health and wellbeing of our population­s,” states Radwan.

“In sync with the shifting demands placed by patients on their healthcare providers, the role of human capital and being able to respond with agility to the changing needs of patients, will mean the ability to attract and retain talent will be critical to maintainin­g outstandin­g patient care, particular­ly as the world competes for talent.” Supporting the market to meet this growing demand is Yas Holding’s healthcare HR outsourcin­g company, Global Medical Solutions (GMS), which offers placement and retention strategies. “Operating since 2006, GMS now employs and outsources over 2,800 staff, placed in over 50 hospitals/ clinics across the country. Notably, it is a unique business that is duly registered by the UAE’s Ministry of Health to license medical profession­als on behalf of their customer’s medical facilities,” says Radwan.


Looking ahead, the biggest trends set to shape the regional healthcare sector are predictabl­y linked to technologi­cal advancemen­ts. “We anticipate strong growth in e-health, telemedici­ne, remote/virtual consultati­on as well

as online pharmacies. The adoption of AI is also expected to substantia­lly increase within the healthcare space,” predicts Suresh Vaidyanath­an, group CFO at Yas Holding.

“For Yas Holding, healthcare will continue to be a key sector primed for growth along with other verticals including agricultur­e, food, education, aviation and technology. Yas seeks to expand its revenue streams in the coming years across these sectors. Within healthcare, the investment­s are intended to be diverse, spanning biopharmac­euticals, distributi­on, licensing, technology and manufactur­ing,” he adds.

Looking at GHH specifical­ly, the company is planning to expand and grow in three different verticals including – Pharma and biotech value chain:

Covering manufactur­ing, distributi­on and in/out licensing business

Hospital and patient care: Spread across hospital operations, management and supply chain Global healthtech: Focusing on AI and telemedici­ne investment­s

“We see strong potential for growth, both locally in the UAE and regionally. We are particular­ly excited about our biopharma in and out-licensing company, BioVenture, and our recent acquisitio­ns in Geltec Healthcare and Gulf Inject. Through these investment­s, we expect to licence and produce an impressive range of products, including cutting edge biopharmac­euticals, injectable­s, generic IV infusions, antibiotic­s, local anaestheti­cs and hypertonic solutions. We expect these complement­ary product portfolios and supply chain networks to open new markets across the Middle East and North Africa for the group,” explains Radwan.

The company is also looking for further opportunit­ies to acquire businesses that complement its growth model and drive further efficienci­es across the healthcare system.

“As an integral part of the wider Yas Holding Group, we will always be looking for opportunit­ies to acquire new business while pursuing opportunit­ies through our existing enterprise­s. We have a pipeline of strategic expansion projects, and are looking to double our revenues in three years,” he adds.

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 ?? ?? Ashraf Radwan, CEO of GHH
Ashraf Radwan, CEO of GHH
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 ?? ?? Suresh Vaidyanath­an, group CFO at Yas Holding
Suresh Vaidyanath­an, group CFO at Yas Holding

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