The Sidra Medical and Research Centre, under the Qatar Foundation, is the biggest healthcare project in the Gulf region, according to a research published recently.

Countries in the region are spending almost $14bn in the healthcare sector according to the Proleads, which maintains the most comprehensive database of the projects in the region.

The spending shows that despite the economic downturn, investment on healthcare is continuing across Gulf countries with a mixture of public, private and joint-venture initiatives.

Sidra, scheduled to open in 2011, is the first academic medical centre announced in the region based on the North American model. It is funded by $7.9bn endowment from the Qatar Foundation, the largest endowment of a medical and research centre anywhere in the world.

The Proleads database of healthcare projects shows that Qatar only has two projects currently underway but one alone is the region�s biggest and most ambitious � the Sidra-budgeted at $2.3bn.

Current spending in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates on new healthcare facilities is closely matched at $2.8bn and $2.9bn. Saudi Arabia leads the list with total healthcare projects worth more than $6.6bn currently being built.

The database shows that Saudi Arabia is in the midst of a major construction programme with a total of 83 projects ranging from the $400m King Saud University Medical City in Riyadh to the $5m Qatif Central Hospital expansion in the Eastern Province.

In the UAE, the biggest project underway is the $1.9bn first phase of the Cleveland Clinic Al Suwwa Island development in Abu Dhabi. Second biggest is the Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum Academic Medical Centre in Dubai Healthcare City budgeted at $572m.

Kuwait has a major hospital project under construction – the $1.2bn Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah Hospital. Bahrain, meanwhile, is spending $130mn on the King Hamad General Hospital.

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