He has been part of the UAE healthcare industry for over 15 years. During the course, Dr Raza Siddiqui spearheaded a number of signature projects, including the prestigious RAK Hospital, an established benchmark in the region’s healthcare sector. Dr Siddiqui was also instrumental in setting up the RAK College of Medical Sciences, a network of clinics and clinical referral laboratories along with the establishment of a medical equipment trading division. With his zeal, passion and skill, he played a significant role in planning, execution and management of these successful projects.
After a college education in Delhi, Dr Siddiqui earned his MBA degree from a US university. Interestingly, he has also done a course in fashion designing and worked as resident manager for a reputed textile company in India for six years. A keen fashion enthusiast and a designer himself, he designs his own clothes. He believes that dressing up well enhances one’s feeling of wellness, once again emphasizing an organic link between his two professions and passions.
RAK Hospital, a premier name in the medical and wellness industry, is nestled in the foothills of the Jebel Jais mountain range in Ras Al Khaimah, providing exceptional medical care in the lap of nature. Since its launch in 2007, the hospital has been playing a pivotal role in promoting the beautiful emirate and the UAE as a centre for premium medical care and wellness therapies.
The hospital was established to address the growing demand for a top-notch healthcare facility for locals, expats, and tourists alike. Just an hour away from the Dubai International Airport, RAK Hospital caters to a large number of patients that flock to the UAE for cost-effective and reliable medical care. The hospital has built its reputation on the selection of top doctors, paramedical and support staff that work in a world-class medical facility surrounded by a tranquil atmosphere. Patients from Africa, Middle East, CIS countries and more visit the hospital every year. RAK Hospital ranks among the few luxury hospitals in the world that seamlessly blends premium hospitality with world-class healthcare.
Please tell us a bit of history and background behind establishing this hospital?
I met His Highness Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi back in 2004 when he had taken over as the Crown Prince of Ras Al Khaimah. At that time His Highness wanted to promote Ras Al Khaimah as a destination for multiple hubs such as tourism, industry and investment. Generally, when people visit from overseas to invest and stay during holidays, the first factor they look for is safety and want to ensure that in case of an emergency they and their families are safe. His Highness had wisely thought of this back then; he called me and said, “Look I want to build a hotel-like hospital where people from all over the world would feel comfortable”.
I understood his vision; however this was too early for Ras Al Khaimah because of its small population. Besides the hospital would itself have taken some time to materialize. This is because healthcare has to be for profit since it can’t run on charitable basis or by governments – something people world over realise. The healthcare sector requires capital while being technologically intensive; therefore it has to be run like a private business to be able to generate respectable profit and to be able to keep up with the changing times and technology.
We did a thorough healthcare research, created a vision for the hospital which was approved by His Highness I went to the US, sat down in the office of Ellerbe Becket – the company that designed Mayo Clinics – for 15 days and got the design completed based on the best healing environment standards. You will notice “light, life, hope” wherever you walk in the hospital.
This is how the design was created and within 18 months we finished the entire project. Moreover, RAK hospital is perhaps one of the few hospitals which is designed as per Joint Commission International and American Institute of Architecture guidelines
Therefore everything is JCI accreditation compliant. In a very short span of time we could win over the confidence of the people not only living in the emirate but also at the regional and international level. I am very happy to say that after 8 years of operations, we are doing work that many people in the region cannot think of: advanced cardiac surgeries, advanced joint replacement programs, etc. We are evolving, growing and we see more than 700 patients a day here while our occupancy is 100%.
I also understand that you are aiming to position Ras Al Khaimah as a new medical tourism destination. Tell us a little about this.?
I did medical tourism for India 20 years ago and India has fortunately become a popular tourism destination in the world today in terms of numbers. I got involved into this business because there is almost a 100 billion US-dollar business opportunity for medical tourism worldwide and in the region we are looking at around 20 billion in the industry. I remember pre-9/11, the US used to get almost 20 billion businesses from the region; however post September 11 there was a vacuum because the US didn’t wanted people from the region nor were the people from the region comfortable going to the US.
Around that time other alternative destinations such as Thailand, Germany, Singapore and India, were emerging. However, I realized that to become a medical tourism destination we need to keep a balance of two factors: healthcare and hospitality. Hospitality in this region is A++, because of the top-of-the-line infrastructure, best of the hotels, redefined standards and everyday safety, security. What was lacking was the international quality healthcare providers so we knew that if we could come up with a hospital which could provide all this, we were in the right location.
Geographically we are at an advantageous situation because Dubai is the biggest healthcare hub today, and the number of transit passengers has crossed more than 40 million. I believe that more than 2000 patients change flights from Dubai Airport to go to other destinations every day. To cut the long story short, we established the hospital, won the confidence of people and then started creating awareness in international market. Today, RAK Hospital is a preferred healthcare destination for a number of foreign dignitaries, including people like governors of Nigeria and health commissioners. We offer the entire package, from the patients’ decision to come here to dropping him back healthy.
What are the expansion plans that you have been talking about. Do you have second phases of development?
We currently have 80 beds but we are adding 100 more beds now and we have a plan ready. We will be doing a modular kind of hospital, a built-in factory that will be brought and fitted here. So hopefully within the next one year we will have that expansion in place in the same area. We are also further expanding; we want to take this quality healthcare to the doorstep of people. We are also planning to open a chain of clinics because we don’t want people with minor health problems to travel all the way to the hospital. So we will be launching four to five RAK Medical Centers in Ras Al Khaimah. We have also recently opened RAK Diabetes Centre in Dubai.
In terms of technology expansion and having the right professionals and doctors, this might be quite an important part of the hospital?
Today technology is not a problem because if you have money in your pocket and you can buy anything; the biggest challenge is skilled, qualified manpower. But the good thing is that people would love to come to this region since its tax free, and promises a good quality of life, safety and security. If you can offer the tourists similar kind of equipment, platform and environment, they would love to come here. Compared to countries like Africa which are a big challenge where you cannot recruit a doctor because he will not go, we have an advantage here. Therefore we are able to attract doctors from all over the world.
Tell us a little about the experience that a patient witnesses when they come here?
I am very passionate about this. I address my staff annually and this year we redefined our vision with zero defects and zero tolerance. However, the people were not very comfortable as they believe a certain percentage might go wrong. I simplified it for them; life and death is in the hands of the Creator, machines don’t make mistakes. If you calibrate the machines right, the machines will do exactly what is required to be done. In healthcare, maximum problems are human errors and medication errors. Once you are dealing with a patient you will have to remember that the patient could even be your family member. This is an emotional and passionate approach, which is reality. If I am looking at a slide in the microscope thinking that it could be my mother, it changes everything. Same approach goes with the patients’ experience. For example, the moment he intends to visit you, each point of contact makes the experience for them. The responsibility for everyone here has to be more passionate. It is a continuous and ongoing struggle, challenge and delight to empower my staff to offer our patients with the best service. I love doing what I’m doing.
As a final question Dr. Siddiqui, this edition is dedicated to Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi and his vision in turning Ras Al Khaimah into such a thriving place. How would you describe in a nutshell the main pillars of his leadership?
His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi is the most knowledgeable person I have ever come across in my life and I have spent life with legends. . It is not ordinary; he is so well-prepared for everything, which is unimaginable. Whatever you see here in Ras Al Khaimah is a reflection of his thoughts and vision. I am only an instrument in expediting, progressing and completing the work as per his vision.