Waha Capital has bought a 97 per cent stake in Anglo Arabian Healthcare, a new healthcare group that owns and operates a total of 16 hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and diagnostics centres across the UAE, it announced at a press conference on 16 June.

The investment company, which reported AED4.4bn in assets in 2012, mainly focuses on aviation, real estate, finance and maritime, but is now also pursuing investments in healthcare and education. It plans to spend AED200m to 250m on the healthcare sector over the next three to five years.

The Abu-Dhabi-based company is owned 15.4 per cent by government-controlled Mubadala Development Company.

“We expect great achievements from this project, in line with the strategy of the government aimed at encouraging the private sector to invest in healthcare,” said Salem al-Noaimi, chief executive officer and managing director of Waha Capital. He declined to disclose the sum of the purchase and did not provide profit projections.

Waha Capital has not yet found the need to use its AED1bn convertible note, which it will use “when the time is right”.

Al-Noaimi said the healthcare sector in the region is set to expand, as medical insurance is becoming mandatory in several emirates.

Chronic diseases are also set to raise demand, as rapid development and an ageing population are leading to rising figures in diabetes patients. Six out of the world’s top ten countries for highest prevalence in diabetes are in the Mena region – Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, according to the Belgium-based International Diabetes Federation.

Anglo Arabian Healthcare owns and operates 16 assets. It has purchased the IBN SINA Group, which consists of five pharmacies, four clinics and the 120-bed Ajman hospital project that will open later this year; Proficiency Central Laboratories, a group that operates in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah; and part of Sharjah Corniche Hospital Group, which includes two clinics and a hospital in Sharjah, and a laboratory in Ras Al-Khaimah. The group is looking at further acquisitions, said chief executive officer Mark Adams.

This year, healthcare is expected to account for 3.4 per cent of the UAE’s gross domestic product, compared to 2.8 per cent last year. In developed countries, that is 6 to 9 per cent.

Other Abu-Dhabi based healthcare providers are also eyeing expansion. Al-Noor Hospitals Group is currently seeking to raise up to $390m through a listing on the London Stock Exchange, following NMC Health’s $187m initial public offering on the same exchange last year.