Dubai’s Wellness Economy Scales Up


Dubai is becoming an international wellness hub.

A New Lifestyle

With its medical tourism sector topping $270M last year, the city perched on the Persian Gulf has launched luxury developments that merge modern comfort with holistic health at breakneck speed.

In particular, fitness is poised to become a $600M market in the UAE by 2025. Emboldened, stakeholders are betting big on the city’s potential to become a leading global wellness destination.

Laying the foundations. As a more wellness-centric landscape literally rises on the skyline, residential and commercial projects are being constructed with wealthy locals and travellers in mind.

  • High-end residences The Source, AIRE and Keturah by MAG are leaning into demand for healthier living environments, incorporating spas, meditation hubs, in-house fitness classes, and thermal suites.
  • Opening later this year, wellness hotel SIRO will offer tailored programmes and treatments designed to support peak fitness, mental health, nutrition, and sleep, while Six Senses’ 2024 opening will feature a longevity centre alongside other wellness amenities.
  • Launched in 2020, mixed development ICD Brookfield Place signed a host of wellness tenants, including Embody Fitness, Reform Athletica, and UK boutique fitness brand 1REBEL.

Fueled by the government’s 2040 Urban Master Plan—aimed at enhancing the well-being of citizens and residents—a number of projects reducing the city’s carbon footprint while increasing green and recreational spaces are also in the pipeline.

Training space. Despite some COVID-related studio closures, UAE’s upper and middle classes are driving expansion within the luxury gym and boutique sectors, with the number of fitness studios in the overall MENA region predicted to balloon from 1.6K in 2020 to 2.6K by 2025.

While homegrown concepts like Seven, Warehouse Gym, and FitRepublik reap the benefits, international operators have also caught wind of the emirate’s potential.

  • In the past 12 months, UK boutique operators 1REBEL and ROAR Fitness made their debuts.
  • After entering the region in 2016, Australia’s F45 Training now has 14 Dubai studios.
  • Joining existing US boutique chain Barry’s, Mayweather Boxing + Fitness and Orangetheory Fitness sites are in development, while UFC Gym just opened its third location in January.
  • Fitness competition Turf Games has made Dubai a stop since 2020, while fitness racing event HYROX hosts its inaugural event this September.

Lower-cost alternatives, serving those unable (or unwilling) to pay premium prices, are also scaling up. Dubai’s own GymNation and METROFITT, the UK’s PureGym, and the US’ Snap Fitness, which opened its first-ever ladies-only club in 2021, are currently all in growth mode.

Looking ahead: By investing heavily in its health and wellness image, Dubai is priming itself for further growth. But beyond luxury developments, a shift from pampered and polished to practical and preventative needs to take place to prove health isn’t just a commodity for the rich.