February 15, 2006

The UAE's Dubai Biotechnology and Research Park (DuBiotech) -- a 300-hectare biotechnology and life sciences park -- is to begin construction on its first phase of development, at an estimated cost of AED1.5bn (US$408.38mn). This will consist of building a headquarters, offices and four laboratory research buildings and is scheduled for completion in 2008.

DuBiotech aims to attract a mix of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies active in discovery, R&D, testing, production, storage, sales and distribution. To date, 12 major international drugmakers have received licenses to operate in the park.

Firms locating in DuBiotech will receive a 100% exemption on corporate and personal tax guaranteed for 50 years, 100% ownership of their businesses and 100% repatriation of profits. Meanwhile, it is hoped that the expertise and technology that these companies will bring to the UAE will help stimulate the country's biotech sector.

The drug industry in the UAE is worth approximately AUD2bn (US$544.5mn) and with the launch of DuBiotech and the Dubai Healthcare City -- which is also attracting major investment from foreign drugmakers -- the market is expected to grow by around 12% annually in the coming years. Domestic demand, increased privatisation, a rising population and a simplification of the regulatory regime will drive this expansion.

Meanwhile, the government -- which currently spends AED200mn (US$54.45mn) per year on drug procurement -- is likely to increase expenditure, buoyed by high oil revenues.