Saif Aljaibeji

Saif Aljaibeji

  • Saif Aljai­beji is the Regional CEO at Optum, a UnitedHe­alth Group company. He is also Chairman of Sehteq Initia­tive, and Co-Founder and Chairman at the RAK Incu­bator and Acce­le­rator. He intro­duces us here to the exci­ting new land­s­cape of Dubai’s healt­h­care indu­stry, and the busi­ness oppor­tu­nities propel­ling tech­no­lo­gical growth.

Still curious?
There is more to see here:

All Articles

What inspired you to set up Iraq Health?

In the summer of 2006, I swapped my scrubs for a dark suit, and began my tran­si­tion from surgical trainee at the hospital to health policy maker. I joined the corpo­rate world in 2011.

These days, I try to balance my day job with a white-hat inte­rest called “Iraq Health”. Laun­ched in 2009, its purpose is to attract regional healt­h­care players to Iraq where they present their offe­rings. We aimed to socia­lise the model of PPP with health policy makers in the country. However, though part­nership with the private sector might provide a solu­tion to the shor­tage of supply and the increa­sing demands made upon quality healt­h­care services, the model could not work. The poli­tical situa­tion was — and remains — too unstable.

What is the signi­fi­cance of basing your work in the UAE? What parti­cular chal­lenges and oppor­tu­nities does the area present for entre­pre­neurs?

The UAE has become the regional hub for inno­va­tion, and with the help of a clear, government-led vision, it has grown into one of the top desti­na­tions for entre­pre­neurship. In Dubai, we have many government incu­ba­tors and acce­le­ra­tors, such as Dubai 100 and Dubai Future Acce­le­rator, among many other successful hubs. Beyond this, there are priva­tely-owned co-working spaces and startup hubs, such as Astrolabs and Turn8. I, on the other hand, decided to spend time at Silicon Valley. I deve­loped my own views while I was there. This proved to be the right path for me, and last summer, along­side my friend Hisham Safadi, a dentist and entre­pre­neur based in Ras Al Khamiah, I pitched the idea of a hybrid model with RAK government.

The RAK Incu­bator and Acce­le­rator was born a few months later — we ran a startup weekend event to engage the local audi­ence. The model is simple: like the government hubs, we help entre­pre­neurs obtain the necessary legal requi­re­ments to run their busi­nesses. What makes us diffe­rent is that we have fashioned our selec­tion criteria with a revenue-driven approach. We curr­ently have 18 compa­nies. Our target is 40, and no more.

Regar­ding medical tourism within Dubai, how has the land­s­cape changed most recently? What do you hope to next accom­plish?

The SME segment is at the heart of the UAE economy. This segment is growing and, though its growth is not as high as we’d like, it has strong trac­tion with government insti­tu­tions, and a clear mandate to encou­rage and support entre­pre­neurship in the UAE and the region.

Sehteq’s “Arabic for your health” is a good example of this. The company started out in 2015 as a medical tourism or cross-border treat­ment solu­tion provider in the UAE, focussed on offe­ring end-to-end packages for cancer, and eye treat­ment for Iraqi pati­ents at selec­tive hospi­tals in Jordan, Turkey and India. Today, Sehteq has become a government initia­tive that part­ners with the Depart­ment of Economic Deve­lop­ment in Ras Al Khamiah. It provides a digital health insurance plat­form with clearly explained and easily purcha­sable health insurance products. The initia­tive is in the incu­ba­tion stage, and is managed by the RAK Incu­bator and Acce­le­rator. This has in turn allowed the plat­form to benefit from the full scope of inno­va­tive ideas and entre­pre­neu­rial skill asso­ciated with the hub.

Could you speak to the signi­fi­cance of digital tech­no­lo­gies in the expan­sion of the healt­h­care market? What sticks out for you as the most exci­ting deve­lop­ments (wearable gadgets, early diagnosis, AI, 3D, etc.)?

Health insurance is a legacy busi­ness, one that is trapped within the rigid compli­ance systems of the UAE and the Gulf. The combined power gene­rated by the grou­ping of expe­ri­enced insurance execu­tives with sparky young entre­pre­neurs, plus tech­no­logy and inno­va­tion know­ledge, has balanced the offe­ring. The plat­form trans­lates inno­va­tion from block­chain, AI, and startup UX, and applies it to the stan­dard prac­tices of policy under­wri­ting, claims proces­sing and payment systems.

Both indi­vi­duals and corpo­ra­tions can visit the website, review the stan­dard products that are care­fully desi­gned and regu­larly updated, compare products’ features (all formu­lated in simple language and no fine print), and then instantly purchase the coverage. Further­more, we’re curr­ently testing the instant use of this coverage, with contracted provi­ders using the consumer’s national ID to skip the wait for a printed insurance card.

All of the above is exci­ting news for startups and entre­pre­neurs. I’ve even seen a more pronounced inte­rest at corpo­rate level to bring inno­va­tion to the core of what they do. At UnitedHe­alth Group, we take inno­va­tion very seriously. UHG spent a total of 4 billion dollars in R&D and inno­va­tion last year to create a new tech­no­logy solu­tion to improve the health system.

Arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence tech­no­logy has proven its use in many indu­stries — inclu­ding healt­h­care. The other key trend is consumer-driven solu­tions. Our gene­ra­tion are known as tech­no­logy immi­grants, and yet we still manage to get things done; filling forms, stan­ding in long lines and waiting on calls. This gene­ra­tion of digital natives would never bow to this, and the smar­test compa­nies are busy buil­ding solu­tions for that future: when being digital is not an option, but a must.

Saif Aljaibeji

Saif Aljaibeji

  • Saif Aljai­beji is the Regional CEO at Optum, a UnitedHe­alth Group company. He is also Chairman of Sehteq Initia­tive, and Co-Founder and Chairman at the RAK Incu­bator and Acce­le­rator. He intro­duces us here to the exci­ting new land­s­cape of Dubai’s healt­h­care indu­stry, and the busi­ness oppor­tu­nities propel­ling tech­no­lo­gical growth.

Still curious?
There is more to see here:

All Articles