People across the world have increasingly been spending and taking an interest in natural remedies and medicine.
The Global Wellness Institute in 2018 issued a report on investments in this industry, including outlining spending in the Middle East and North Africa region.
The report indicated that global spending on wellness increased between 2015 and 2017 from $3.7 trillion to $4.2 trillion. This was an annual increase of 6.4 percent, almost double the growth of the global economy.
Globally in 2017, the wellness industry saw spending of $360 billion in complementary and alternative medicine, $639 billion in health tourism, $595 billion in manual and mental therapies, $119 billion in health resorts, and $56.7 billion in the thermal and mineral springs sector.
The profits recorded by health resorts in 2017, in the MENA region, amounted to $2.8 billion. Saudi Arabia ranked second in MENA in the same year, with 510 establishments employing 9,298 employees, and achieving an income of $347 million.
In terms of spending on workplace wellness and health programs, the Kingdom ranks second in MENA, covering 2.5 million workers at a cost of $286 million.
There should be an inventory drawn up of the Kingdom’s herbal plants, to support traditional Arab and Islamic medicinal practices, because this could be a source of national income.
As for complementary medicine, as a curative and preventive measure, according to the World Health Organization’s Strategy for Traditional and Complementary Medicine (2014-2023), there is an increasing global demand for related products and practices.
The complementary medicine sector plays a prominent role in the economic development of several countries worldwide, and its use is seemingly reducing actual costs on healthcare.
This data for complementary medicine shows that it could play a significant role in helping achieve the economic targets outlined in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan, which includes boosting investment and job creation.
There are several initiatives that could be undertaken to attract investment in this sector, which include feasibility studies for investors.
There should also be an inventory drawn up of the Kingdom’s herbal plants, to support traditional Arab and Islamic medicinal practices, because this could be a source of national income.
For example, Chinese and Indian medicinal products are already providing an income for the two nations.
• Saad Majdy Baslom is a director with 10+ years of leadership and specialist experience in complementary medicine practice. He holds a doctorate in traditional Chinese medicine, a master’s in Chinese herbology, and a master’s in acupuncture.