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April 6 – 11, 2019

Mission Description

The United States Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration (ITA), is organizing a Healthcare Technology and Health Services Trade Mission to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar from April 6 – 11, 2019. The purpose of the mission is to introduce U.S. firms to the rapidly expanding healthcare sectors in these three countries and to assist U.S. companies in pursuing opportunities in this sector.

Target sectors holding high potential for U.S companies include:

  • Home healthcare and rehabilitation
  • Medical devices
  • Trauma care and training
  • Emergency services, training, equipment and supplies
  • Hospital operation and management
  • Healthcare training and staffing services
  • Healthcare education
  • Health information technology

The mission will help participating U.S. firms and associations/organizations gain market insights, make industry and government contacts, solidify business strategies and advance specific projects with the goal of increasing U.S. healthcare product and service exports. The trade mission will start in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where participants will receive market briefings from U.S. Commercial Service and industry experts, hold one-on-one business meetings, meet with Saudi government officials and organizations, and participate in networking events. The trade mission participants will next travel to Kuwait and subsequently Qatar, where they will have additional opportunities to meet with key contacts and decision makers. Participating in an official U.S. industry delegation, rather than traveling on their own, will enhance the companies’ abilities to identify opportunities and meet with Ministry of Health officials in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.

In addition to U.S. companies in this sector, U.S. trade associations/organizations are also encouraged to apply. Selection criteria for participation, as set out below, apply equally for all applicants.


Although the size of the healthcare market in Saudi Arabia is significantly greater than that in Kuwait and Qatar, these three countries share many similarities, including growing populations and increasing rates of chronic disease. All three governments have committed significant resources to modernize their respective healthcare systems, with a priority to achieve greater efficiencies based on patient-centric care, and U.S. companies are well suited to implement the next generation of healthcare delivery solutions needed in these markets.

Saudi Arabia

Spending in the Saudi healthcare sector was $22.4 billion in 2016. Indeed, healthcare and education remain fundamental to the government’s 2017 budget, receiving a combined 36 percent budget allocation. The budget envisions the completion of 38 new hospitals, two medical cities and refurbishing of various healthcare facilities. The Saudi private healthcare sector is experiencing dramatic growth, but private spending still only accounts for 21 percent of total healthcare expenditures.

The healthcare sector contributed $20.8 billion to the Kingdom’s GDP in 2015. The sector is projected to grow by 13.7 percent by 2025. This growth is fueled by urban expansion, especially in Makkah, Riyadh and the Eastern province. Saudi Arabia, like other countries in the Arabian Gulf, continues to exhibit negative lifestyle trends which are affecting morbidity statistics. Non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer have become the main causes of death among Saudis; their incidence is rising due to a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, high tobacco use, and poor dietary choices. Type-2 diabetes has a 14.4 percent prevalence rate and 2.5 million people are expected to be diabetic by 2030. The latest World Health Organization (WHO) figures indicate that 33.7 percent of Saudi adults are obese and 68.2 percent are overweight.

The market for healthcare and medical equipment in Saudi Arabia is driven by government initiatives and lifestyle trends. While the government currently accounts for almost 80 percent of healthcare expenditures, privatization is creating opportunities for medical service delivery in the areas of dialysis, radiology, oncology, cardiovascular care and other outpatient services. The Saudi Ministry of Health plans to privatize 295 hospitals and 2,259 health centers by 2030. Among the first assets to be offered will be one of Saudi Arabia's top hospitals, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh. As a consequence of risky driving habits and weak enforcement, the Kingdom has one of the world’s highest rates of traffic accidents, which generates demand for emergency room equipment and specializations like reconstructive surgery.

The Saudi market for medical devices is estimated at just under $2 billion and is growing annually at roughly 10 percent. Greater awareness of health issues and a growing consumption of healthcare services sustain a strong market for medical equipment. Saudi Arabia is encouraging a domestic manufacturing base for these devices and instruments but currently manufactures low value commodities such as bandages, gloves, syringes and furniture. Imports represent approximately 90 percent of the market, with American products accounting for 21 percent of total imports.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects:

Best Prospects include:

  • and training services for physicians, nurses and technical staff;
  • technology and big data management services related to the digitization of patient records and billing information;
  • management and joint ventures with Saudi partners;
  • in pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities for vaccines, sterile injectables, plasma, generics and other pharmaceuticals;
  • of support services and investments to establish local capabilities in bioequivalence centers, cold chain logistics, outpatient imaging and contract research organization (CROs);
  • of health insurance; and
  • healthcare and rehabilitation.

In addition, medical equipment related to traffic accidents such as emergency room equipment, rehabilitation equipment, diagnostic equipment, electro-medical equipment, orthopedic and dental appliances and prosthesis are in demand. Moreover, the GCC releases an annual tender for billions of dollars for the following products and services: renal dialysis supplies; oral and dental care; laboratory supplies; orthopedic and spinal surgery supplies; rehabilitation equipment; cardiovascular devices; linens and medical uniforms; ophthalmology supplies; ENT supplies; medicines; vaccines; chemicals; insecticides; and radio-pharmaceuticals.


New projects in the Ministry of Health budget included the construction of three hospitals, three blood bank centers, 11 primary health care centers, and 10 comprehensive care clinics. Hospital beds currently number around 64,000 for all hospitals in Saudi Arabia and are expected to grow to 119,000 beds by 2020.

The National Transformation Program also highlights the following initiatives it intends to carry out in this sector:

  • privatization of government services;
  • health IT and digital records and increase percentage of patients with a digital health record from 0 to 70 percent by 2020;
  • the number of qualified Saudi nurses by 2020;
  • the number of licensed medical facilities from 40 to 100 by 2020; doubling the percentage of local pharmaceutical manufacturing from 20 percent to 40 percent; and
  • in academic programs related to nursing, medicine, surgery, dentistry, oncology, organ transplant, cardiovascular disease, neuroscience and genetic disorders.

In addition, a private group of investors is developing a 250,000 square meter medical village in Riyadh, consisting of eight 130 bed hospitals and 60 outpatient clinics.


Major upgrades to the country’s healthcare infrastructure and facilities are underway. Kuwaitis suffer from high rates of obesity, diabetes, and cancer. According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, Kuwait is the fourth-most obese country in the world. Although the population is young, the disease burden is a growing concern.
Kuwait’s public healthcare sector accounts for more than 80% of the healthcare spending in the country. Currently, Kuwait’s Ministry of Health is the owner, operator, regulator, and financer of the vast majority of healthcare services rendered, pharmaceuticals purchased, and medical equipment acquired in the country. The government operates 15 general and specialized hospitals. The private sector is expected to grow moderately in the coming years, with private firms estimated to account for 20% of healthcare spending.
Kuwait aspires to create world-class healthcare providers as well as to improve the quality of healthcare in treatment centers, such as the Kuwait Cancer Center, the Kuwait Chest Disease Hospital, the Kuwait Radiology Center, the Ibn-Sina Center for Ophthalmology, and the Dasman Research Center for Diabetes.
The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Public Works announced a USD 4.42 billion (KD 1.250 billion) project to replace or expand nine operating hospitals (five general hospitals and four specialized hospitals) within the next ten years. The goal is to add 5,400 beds, 150 operating rooms, and 500 outpatient clinics to the current 7,095 hospital beds countrywide. In addition, the USD 1.1 billion (KD 304 million) Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah Hospital, which is near completion, will add another 1,200 beds. Currently, Kuwait has two hospital beds per 1,000 people. This represents a stark undersupply in the face to population growth and the rising disease burden.
According to the Ministry of Health, the private sector will be instrumental in the overall development of the medical sector. The private healthcare market is estimated to grow by 15-20% in the coming years. Currently, a total of 12 private hospitals (totaling 1,038 hospital beds) provide private medical services in Kuwait. Several new private hospitals are expected to open in the next few years, adding 1,800 hospital beds. Although the government offers free healthcare services, patients are willing to pay a premium for private treatment in order to reduce waiting times and treatment schedules. In certain fields, such as obstetrics and gynecology, local patients pay a premium for high-end services offered by private hospitals.
The healthcare sector is witnessing some reform initiatives. One of the reforms includes broadening public-private partnerships and giving the private sector a larger role in the provision of healthcare services. Recently, public healthcare centers began referring patients to private medical care providers for services like IVF treatment and physiotherapy.
The Ministry of Health has curbed the frequent overseas travel for medical care over the past year and is working to increase the development of the medical sector in Kuwait. The new hospitals coming online will need medical equipment, operators, training, and education. There also is an interest in improving the quality of trauma center care, paramedic training, and rehab centers in the country. There is a growing interest in developing hospital-to-hospital relationships so that for more serious illnesses that still require treatment in the United States, some pre and post-operative care can be delivered in Kuwait.


Opportunities for U.S. companies include a broad range of healthcare-oriented products and services, including medical equipment; hospital supplies, products, and services; and specialized applications. Quality control is now being enforced at an increased level. It is estimated that 15,000 healthcare professionals will be needed in the public sector alone in the coming years.


Qatar has a centrally funded public healthcare system. All citizens have the right to free and equal access to health services that are financed from public funds. Healthcare is financed through directly allocated central funding from the public budget.

The health sector has been allocated QR22.7bn, which represents 11.2% of total expenditures in 2018. Major projects to improve Qatar’s healthcare services include expansion of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) facilities, primary health care centers, Emergency Hospital and the establishment of new health centers, costing QR2.9bn over five years. The education sector has been given an outlay of QR19bn in the 2018 budget, up 18% over the current year. New faculties are planned in medicine and pharmacology. The government is currently actively pursuing an alternate system of healthcare financing through health insurance but this is not yet in place.

Expatriates can purchase health cards. The costs are still low and do not come close to meeting the actual cost of health care services. Healthcare costs in the private sector are very expensive to many except for some banks, private companies and the oil sector which subsidize their employees’ medical coverage in the private sector. Doctors and hospitals expect immediate cash payment for health services. Private healthcare is growing driven by popular demand for higher quality services. Healthcare costs are still relatively cost-effective compared with regional neighbors with highly developed private health care systems.

The healthcare system is available to all; whether you are a national, expatriate or a tourist. Qatar has a public health service that provides free or highly subsidized healthcare with the one exception to this may be treatment for highly specialized services. Expatriates are still required to pay some of their medical costs, for that they usually avail of international health insurance.


Under the Qatar Health Facilities Master Plan, 48 healthcare projects are expected to be completed by 2020 and this includes 31 health centers, two long term care facilities and five hospital expansion plans. Global healthcare organizations are invited to partner in opening new facilities in the sector. Finally, participation of the private sector will rise in the healthcare industry. One of the main areas of focus for preventative healthcare is the fight against contagious diseases.

Best Prospects include:

E-medicine Technologies

Training & Training Equipment

Research & Development

Healthcare Education Materials

Medical Equipment

Medical Management/Consultancy Services

Patients’ Safety Training


The goals of the Healthcare Technology and Health Services Trade Mission are to provide U.S. participants with first-hand market information, and one-on-one meetings with business contacts, including potential partners, as well as government meetings, so that they can position themselves to enter or expand their presence in the Saudi, Kuwaiti, and Qatari markets. Specifically, the Healthcare Trade Mission will:

  • facilitate first-hand market exposure,
  • facilitate access to government decision makers and key private-sector industry contacts, especially potential partners; and
  • provide participants with an opportunity to learn about new healthcare policies and how they can be translated to U.S. export opportunities.



Saturday – April 6

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

  • Arrive Riyadh and hotel check-in
  • Welcome reception/ice breaker

Sunday – April 7

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

  • Welcome and overview of Trade Mission (TM)
  • Market briefings from the U.S. Commercial Service and industry experts
  • One-on-one business meetings
  • Networking reception in Riyadh

Monday – April 8

Riyadh and Kuwait City

  • Government meetings
  • Travel to Kuwait

Tuesday – April 9

Kuwait City

  • Market briefing
  • One-on-one business meetings
  • Government meetings
  • Networking reception

Wednesday – April 10

Kuwait City and Doha

  • Additional meetings
  • Depart for Doha
  • Networking reception in Doha

Thursday – April 11


  • Market briefing
  • Government meetings
  • One-on-one business meetings
  • Mission ends


All parties interested in participating in the trade mission must complete and submit an application package for consideration by the U.S. Department of Commerce. All applicants will be evaluated on their ability to meet certain conditions and best satisfy the selection criteria as

outlined below and will be notified whether they are chosen to participate in the mission. A minimum of 12 and maximum of 15 companies and/or trade associations/organizations will be selected from the applicant pool to participate in the trade mission.

Fees and Expenses

After an applicant has been selected to participate in the mission, a payment to the U.S. Department of Commerce in the form of a participation fee is required. Upon notification of acceptance to participate, those selected have five (5) business days to submit payment or the acceptance may be revoked.

The participation fee for the trade mission to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar is $3,800 for small or medium-sized enterprises (SME)1 and $4,900 for large companies. The fee for each additional representative (large firm or SME or trade association/organization) is $750.


The mission fee does not include any personal travel expenses such as lodging, most meals, local ground transportation (except for transportation to and from meetings, airport transfers during the mission) and air transportation. Participants will, however, be able to take advantage of U.S. Government per diem rates for hotel rooms. Business or entry visas are required for participation in the mission. Applying for and obtaining such visas will be the responsibility of the mission participant. Government fees and processing expenses to obtain such visas are not included in the participation fee. However, the U.S. Department of Commerce will provide instructions to each participant on the procedures required to obtain necessary business visas.


Applicants must submit a completed and signed mission application and supplemental application materials, including information on their products and/or services, primary market objectives, and goals for participation by February 15, 2019, but applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis beginning September 10, 2018 (see timeframe below). If the U.S. Department of Commerce receives an incomplete application, the Department may either: request additional information/clarification, take the lack of information into account when evaluating the application, or reject the application.

Each applicant must also certify that the products and services it seeks to export through the mission are either produced in the United States, or, if not, are marketed under the name of a U.S. company and have at least fifty-one percent U.S. content by value. In the case of a trade association or organization, the applicant must certify that, for each firm or service provider to be represented by the association/organization, the products and/or services the represented firm or service provider seeks to export are either produced in the United States or, if not, marketed under the name of a U.S. company and have at least fifty-one percent U.S. content.

In addition, each applicant must:

  • Certify that the products and services that it wishes to market through the mission would be in compliance with U.S. export controls and regulations;
  • Certify that it has identified any matter pending before any bureau or office in the U.S. Department of Commerce;
  • Certify that it has identified any pending litigation (including any administrative proceedings) to which it is a party that involves the U.S. Department of Commerce;
  • Sign and submit an agreement that it and its affiliates (1) have not and will not engage in the bribery of foreign officials in connection with a company’s/participant’s involvement in this mission, and (2) maintain and enforce a policy that prohibits the bribery of foreign officials; and
  • Certify that it meets the minimum requirements as stated in this announcement.

In the case of a trade association/organization, the applicant must certify that each firm or service provider to be represented by the association/organization can make the above certifications.


Targeted mission participants are U.S. manufacturers, services providers, and trade associations/organizations providing or promoting healthcare products/services that have an interest in entering or expanding their business in the Saudi and Kuwaiti markets. The following criteria will be evaluated in selecting participants:

  • Suitability of a firm’s or trade association’s products or services to these markets;
  • Firm’s or trade association/organization’s potential for business in the markets, including likelihood of exports resulting from the mission; and
  • Consistency of the firm’s or trade association/organization goals and objectives with the stated scope of the mission.

Additional factors, such as diversity of company size, type, location, and demographics, may also be considered during the review process. Referrals from political organizations and any documents, including the application, containing references to partisan political activities (including political contributions) will be removed from an applicant’s submission and not considered during the selection process.


Mission recruitment will be conducted in an open and public manner, including publication in the Federal Register, posting on the U.S. Commerce Department trade mission calendar (http://www.export.gov/trademissions/) and other Internet web sites, press releases to general and trade media, direct mail, broadcast fax, notices by industry trade associations and other multiplier groups, and publicity at industry meetings, symposia, conferences, and trade shows.

Recruitment for the mission will begin immediately and conclude no later than February 15, 2019. The U.S. Department of Commerce will review applications and make selection decisions on a rolling basis beginning September 10, 2018 until the maximum of 15 participants is selected. Applications received after February 15, 2019, will be considered only if space and scheduling constraints permit.


Melissa Hill Kuwait City, Kuwait

U.S. Department of Commerce Yousif Almahadi

New York, NY U.S. Commercial Service - Kuwait

Tel: 212-471-0062 Tel: +965-2259-1487

E-mail: Melissa.hill@trade.gov E-mail: Yousif.almahadi@trade.gov

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Jeff Hamilton

Nasir Abbasi U.S. Commercial Service – Kuwait

U.S. Commercial Service – Riyadh Tel: +965-2259-1354

Tel: + 966-11-488-3800 Ext 4159 E-mail: Jeff.Hamilton@trade.gov

E-mail: Nasir.Abbasi@trade.gov

Maher Siblini Doha, Qatar

U.S. Commercial Service – Riyadh Anissa Lahreche

Tel: +966-11-488-3800 x 4302 U.S. Commercial Service – Qatar

E-mail: maher.siblini@trade.gov Tel: 974-4696-6040 E-mail: Anissa.Lahreche@trade.gov

Ilona Shtrom

U.S. Commercial Service – Qatar

Tel: 974- 4696-6739

Email: Ilona.shtrom@trade.gov

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