View All Blog Posts

The Road to a Healthier Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has embarked on a bold initiative to diversify its economy and encourage foreign investment in a number of critical sectors, including health and life sciences.

Through the Saudi Vision 2030 and National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020, Saudi Arabia has refocused its investment in health and developed an efficient, state-run health system. The NTP aims to increase the share of private sector involvement in the health sector to improve the quality of care, promote competition and focus on key health threats, including the increase in deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Further, new investments made through the NTP will help Saudi Arabia meet future health needs and decrease economic and social strains across generations. Over the last several years, the Kingdom has taken progressive steps toward strengthening protections for intellectual property – a necessity for any country seeking to attract innovation and investment.

But while the NTP has its benefits, challenges still remain.

Non-communicable diseases account for about 73%of all deaths in the Kingdom, often resulting from high rates of obesity, tobacco use and inactive lifestyles. Saudi Arabia’s growing aging population is also placing increased financial burdens on health systems and infrastructure.

But recent actions by health authorities have weakened intellectual property (IP) protections that support biopharmaceutical research. These developments threaten the overall investment climate in Saudi Arabia, jeopardize the policy goals of the government and diminish commercial opportunities for Saudi citizens.

Saudi Arabia is a key economic market in the heart of the Middle East and North Africa. And while Crown Prince Mohammad and his economic team have introduced widespread reforms to promote long-term growth and diversification including the privatization of hospitals and a new health insurance market, opportunities remain for Saudi officials to work with investors and innovators to ensure the Kingdom rightfully protects and enforces IP rights.

There are thousands of new medicines and treatments in development across a range of chronic diseases and cutting-edge research in gene therapy, genomics and personalized medicine – areas that the Kingdom is specifically seeking to attract investment and talent. Through dialogue and collaboration, the Kingdom can achieve its health goals, improve its investment reputation and position itself as a regional leader in health.


Interview Spotlight: Samir Khalil, Executive Director of PhRMA Middle East and Africa

In a recent interview with Asharq Alawsat, Samir Khalil, Executive Director of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) Middle East and Africa, discussed the ongoing need for strong intellectual property (IP) protections, increased investment in biopharmaceutical research and development and global collaboration to foster a robust innovation ecosystem in Saudi Arabia.

COVID-19 Clinical Development Advancements in MENA

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact patients globally, clinical researchers throughout the Middle East and North Africa are rapidly testing investigational medicines and vaccine candidates in clinical trials. These trials are vital to determining the impact a potential new treatment may have on patients, while providing necessary insights to drive promising COVID-19 therapies forward in a quick, safe and efficient manner.

Opportunities for Progress

Explore policy-related opportunities for governments, health officials and companies operating in the MENA health sector.

Learn more