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Current Regional Spend on Health Industry Estimated at AED 272 Billion - 60% Emiratis overweight; obesity levels in expatriates equally high
Current Regional Spend on Health Industry Estimated at AED 272 Billion


PRZOOM - /newswire/ - Dubai, UAE, United Arab Emirates, 2007/03/18 - 60% Emiratis overweight; obesity levels in expatriates equally high.

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This year’s Wellness and Spas Trade Fair will tackle the growing problem of obesity across the Middle East, with a dedicated floor section aimed at fitness and exercise. “Pulse,” a collection of exhibitors demonstrating aerobic, resistance machines and exercise equipment, will showcase the benefits of a good workout as a fun part of a trip to a spa and an ideal way to help maintain the optimum body weight.

Wellness & Spas Middle East Exhibition Manager, Susan Amin representing organizers Messe Frankfurt, believes that this special focus on slimming will benefit the many thousands of consumers across the region that are taking an avid interest in leisure related health activities. “Obesity is becoming a real issue for the 4.3 million people living in the UAE, 80% of who are expatriates,” she says.

“Figures indicate that 60% of Emirati nationals are overweight and this figure is broadly in line with the obesity levels within the expatriate community; particularly those from the western hemisphere. It is a problem for the whole region, in fact, as Kuwait has been listed as 8th in the World’s Fattest Countries table, ahead of the United States. The wellness industry is well placed to be able to tackle this soaring problem and that is why this year’s Wellness and Spas trade fair will have a section dedicated to fitness and exercise,” Ms Amin adds.

The Pulse exhibition area will feature equipment and demonstrations from some of the world’s leading fitness manufacturers; underlining the huge growth in the personal fitness market across the region.

“We have witnessed a boom in the membership of health clubs and gyms across the UAE, with new outlets and premises opening almost on a monthly basis,” says Ms. Amin. “There are a number of reasons for this growth. Per capita annual income in the Emirates has reached over $20,000 and local consumers, especially those between the ages of 20 and 45, are not only more willing to spend money on healthy leisure activities, but also exhibit a high degree of acceptance toward fitness,” she adds.

“The importance of exercise has even been acknowledged as important at government level, with the UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum asking the population to stay healthy by joining the ‘get fit program’. All residents are being officially encouraged to live healthier lifestyles that involve some level of physical activity to help fight obesity,” she says.

The Pulse display at the Wellness and Spas exhibition will also feature companies from the sports nutrition sector; who will be exhibiting a range of energy products and specialist supplements to be taken in conjunction with exercise for maximum results. Their inclusion reflects the importance attached to taking the correct diet as part of any workout regime and demonstrates how the spa segment is increasingly merging with traditional gym industries and other wellness activities.

“Spa treatments are no longer associated simply with sitting in a steamy room whilst wrapped in a towel, but instead now incorporate a wider range of services with the aim of maintaining health and the optimum body weight” says Ms. Amin. “Increasingly, aerobics, yoga and fitness training are featuring as common-place spa therapies, along with nutritional advice and traditional medical systems, such as ayurveda and naturopathy,” she adds.

Moving away from the concept of body size being associated with fitness, the Pulse display also offers inch reduction without exertion.

Hypoxi - a company dealing in body resculpturing - will be on hand with the latest vacuum therapies that promise to offer the perfect figure without the pain of cosmetic surgery. “There has been a recent upswing in the numbers of people paying to have aesthetic surgery - some research suggests a 90% increase,” says Ms. Amin.

“In addition to Pulse promoting the idea of a healthy lifestyle in relation to toning and weight loss, it would also reveal the latest developments in non-surgical body re-shaping; treatments that are available at a fraction of the cost of an operative procedure and ones that can be performed without the same level of trauma to the body.”

This year’s Wellness and Spas exhibition will highlight the huge growth in the health market; the current regional spend on which is estimated at AED 272 billion (US$74 billion). Dubai has been quick to capitalise on this burgeoning industry; the new developments at Dubai Healthcare City being a prime example. The second phase of this recently opened complex is the Wellness Cluster, which occupies 9 million square feet and incorporates nutrition centers, examination facilities, a sports medicine centre as well as a spa resort. It will focus on customers’ well being and offer advice on slimming and weight reduction as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Dedicated spa resorts and luxurious hotel spas are also booming across the Emirate, with Dubai already having one of the highest concentrations of these centres per capita in the world. “The number of hotels in Dubai offering spa amenities is increasing by 17% per year and by 2015, it is highly likely that there will be more than 200 establishments here containing world class facilities, making the city the top global spa destination,” says Ms Amin.

The huge expansion in the wellness industry and its emphasis on healthy living appears to contradict the acknowledged problem of obesity within the region; a paradox that Ms. Amin is keen to explain.

“People across the UAE now have larger than ever disposable incomes and for many; investment in their health is a natural way to enjoy their leisure time. However, today's working professionals live in a highly stressful environment with a fast-paced and hectic lifestyle. Unhealthy convenience foods and a sedentary lifestyle spent sitting in the office or in traffic mean that putting on unwanted weight is all too easy for some people. The Wellness and Spas Trade Fair will promote the idea that both exercise and relaxation can be used in conjunction as a positive way to keep fit and keep those unwanted pounds off,” she stressed.

The International Trade Fair for the Professional Spa and Wellness Industry will run from 20-22 May, 2007 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre. Last year’s event attracted 748 exhibitors and 8225 visitors and was deemed an overwhelming success, with 98% of visitors polled saying that they intend to revisit the exhibition this year.

Issued on behalf of Messe Frankfurt by BIZ COM.

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Current Regional Spend on Health Industry Estimated at AED 272 Billion

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