An Insight into the Healthcare Sector in Saudi Arabia

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Picture of a sunset over a Saudi Arabian city with a man in the foreground pulling a Saudi flag across the photo.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is one of the fastest-growing and largest economies in the Middle East. It goes without say that the country also possesses a perfect blend of tradition, culture, and expat lifestyle choices, which makes it appealing for the adventurous foreigner.

It’s a big misconception that Saudi Arabia focuses only on oil. The job market there provides career opportunities in different sectors, including real estate (which is booming), healthcare, manufacturing, tourism, banking, and many more. However, the healthcare sector in the country has seen significant growth in the last few years, which is evidenced by the substantial developments in the kingdom’s health facilities.

The Healthcare Sector in Saudi Arabia

Due to the changing needs of the country’s growing population and lifestyle, and the increasing health issues, the healthcare sector in Saudi Arabia is one of the areas that has garnered much attention. As a result, the policymakers are keen on improving and expanding the healthcare capacity of the country. At the same time, it calls for finding out possible ways to attract more investment into this segment of the economy.

A Saudi doctor sitting at a desk in front of a computer, and a Saudi nurse beside him. The skyline of the city of Riyadh can be seen through his hospital window.

Currently, the majority of the healthcare sector’s operations are government-based. The Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) provides more than 60 percent of the healthcare facilities and services in the kingdom, while the rest is taken care of by the private sector and other government agencies. Hence, there is a dire need to shift the focus on the private sector, which will help reduce the burden on public finances.

As stated by the sources, Ahmed Faiyaz, the healthcare expert at MENA Division in Ernst and Young, reveals that the Kingdom has mandatory health insurance for expats and further plans to pilot a scheme for nationals. With the pilot program’s expected success, it will undoubtedly create a significant shift towards the private sector.

Actions Planned by the Policymakers

Notable efforts are planned to make the healthcare sector in Saudi Arabia attractive to the private players and encourage global investors by introducing measures, such as allowing the maximum share of foreign ownership. Some other potential actions include entering into a partnership with global medical organizations.

Per the research conducted by the Kuwait Finance House, the total ongoing health care projects in Saudi Arabia stood at $14.8bn in 2014. To put it in perspective, this represents about 49 percent of the health care projects in the entire GCC. To assist in financing such projects, the Kingdom has liberalized some rules governing major investments in the healthcare sector. Such actions are expected to yield positive results in expanding the private healthcare sector from $8.71bn SAR in 2013 to approximately $14.26bn SAR by the year 2018.

Moreover, even non-Saudis will be allowed to run hospitals in the Kingdom to attract more investments from various international health care organizations.

Hiring the Foreign Manpower

The growing emphasis on reforming the healthcare sector in Saudi Arabia includes building numerous hospitals, formulating new and improved health insurance rules, and providing private players with interest-free loans.

The huge expansion plans in the private sector investments, and in turn the required training and education, will automatically create a demand for skilled foreign workers in hospital jobs to support the increased healthcare capacity.

A filipino nurse posing for a photo. Filipino nurses represent one a growing segment of the healthcare sector in Saudi Arabia.

More workers will be required to fill positions in clinical as well as non-clinical functions, including doctors, nurses, and radiologists. Some of the key players in the field include Dallah Healthcare Holding Company, National Medical Care Company, Magrabi Hospitals and Centres, and Elaj Group.


Attracting private sector investments places Saudi Arabia as the world’s fastest-growing healthcare markets in the next few years. This not only promises to promote the health care quality, but also ensures in diversifying its economic dependency on oil. The improved health care services will positively influence the health map, employment scenario, and the overall qualityt of life in Saudi Arabia.

Have you considered getting a job in the healthcare sector in Saudi Arabia? Have you worked in healthcare in any of the other GCC countries? What was your experience like?

Author: Swati Srivastava is an avid writer with a keen interest in the extensive domain of job search and career counselling. Her articles are published on several reputed job search portals and online career magazines. She has also previously contributed articles to Banker in the Sun, focusing on the Middle Eastern job market.

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