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For those who want ‘IVF and a holiday’ … Dubai’s next hotel

A fertility clinic-resort is opening soon, thanks to changes in UAE law on assisted reproduction

Since October 2023 unmarried non-Muslim couples have been allowed to undergo IVF treatment in the UAE  Shutterstock
Since October 2023 unmarried non-Muslim couples have been allowed to undergo IVF treatment in the UAE

An IVF provider with clinics in the UK, US and Europe is opening a “fertility hotel” in the UAE to cater for medical tourists and expatriates. 

NOW-fertility, which is registered in Switzerland, is due to open a clinic in Al Barsha, Dubai, in the coming weeks – complete with a spa, swimming pool, cinema and 20 luxury villas. 

The UAE has long been seen as an attractive destination for medical tourists from the Middle East and further afield, including those seeking fertility treatment. 

Last October the Emirates overhauled its laws on assisted reproduction to permit unmarried non-Muslim couples to undergo IVF. Previously, only married couples – a smaller tranche of the expatriate population – could access those services. 

The Dubai clinic-cum-resort, called IVF International, is a partnership with the hospitality group Millennium Hotels and Resorts aimed at the fast-growing “fertility tourism” market.

The industry was valued at $400 million worldwide in 2021, according to consultancy Grand View Research. By 2030, Grand View forecasts the global market will be worth $5.3 billion – after annual increases averaging 30 percent.   

Luciano Nardo, founder and chief executive of NOW-fertility and managing director of IVF International, said: “Our concept is the provision of cross-border fertility care: treating patients who have come from overseas to have an IVF or egg freezing cycle and want a holiday at the same time. 

“The clinic is purpose built with the latest technologies, and we’ll aim to serve our patients with all UAE-permitted fertility treatments.” 


Predicted value of global fertility tourism market in 2030, according to Grand View Research

People seek medical treatment abroad for various reasons. The UAE’s draws as a healthcare location include renowned doctors and facilities, cultural diversity and competitive pricing compared to the West. 

The UAE’s Ministry of Economic Cooperation recorded $3 billion of revenues from medical tourism in 2018. By the end of 2023, this was projected to reach $5.3 billion. The UAE’s IVF industry is growing at around 14 percent a year, according to market research company Markntel Advisors.

UAE law now permits the freezing of eggs and embryos, as well as surrogacy. The establishment of egg and sperm banks and the import of frozen eggs or sperm remain illegal. 

James Clark, head of healthcare at the Dubai office of law firm BSA, said individual emirates have yet to outline how they will implement these laws – and this could vary as some are more conservative than others. 

All the same, he said, the changes are a significant industry growth driver. “They are commensurate with other reforms we’re seeing to [modernise] and support its ambitions with regard to medical tourism,” Clark said.  

Nardo told AGBI that the changes in the UAE’s fertility laws should help NOW-fertility’s UAE business to achieve annual revenue growth of at least 20 percent. 

Luciano Nardo is MD of IVF International, which is working with hospitality group Millennium  Supplied
Luciano Nardo is MD of IVF International, which is working with hospitality group Millennium

Another company preparing to make its UAE debut is Kiran Infertility Center, a provider of IVF and “altruistic” (as opposed to commercial) surrogacy services in India, South America and Europe.

It has a consultation office in Dubai but its international patient coordinator, Kate Lopez, said the company was exploring options to set up a full-scale clinic.

“The new laws are a significant development for the surrogacy industry and we are excited about this opportunity, while awaiting finer details from the government,” she said. 

Cassie Destino, founder of the group IVF Support UAE, said increased awareness of fertility issues was helping the industry – and the couples trying to have children. 

“As more and more women talk about fertility care and preservation, the subject is becoming less taboo and procedures are becoming more socially acceptable,” she said.

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