July 24, 2024

Serene Nest

taking care of your health, Our Mission

Thumbay Group: A 25-Year Journey of Transforming Healthcare, Education, and Innovation

6 min read

You began your entrepreneurial journey at a young age and founded the Thumbay Group, which has now expanded into a diversified international conglomerate. What were the key moments and decisions that shaped this remarkable journey?

Looking back on the journey since the inception of Thumbay Group in 1997, I am filled with a deep sense of pride for the core values we’ve embedded, the heights we’ve aspired to, and the outstanding achievements of our group. What commenced as the pioneer private Medical College has grown into a prominent entity, spanning diverse sectors encompassing medical education, healthcare, research, laboratory services, pharmaceuticals, and a range of hospitality ventures, including health clubs, coffee shops, optical stores, and flower shops. Presently, the group boasts an extensive network of over 110 establishments across seven emirates, fostering collaboration with more than 70 institutions globally.

Thumbay Group has provided care and screenings for over 10 million patients, overseeing over 70,000 deliveries with individuals from 175 nationalities. Our university has graduated over 3,500 students, contributing to 60% of the total healthcare workforce and accounting for 20% of doctors graduating annually in the UAE. Over a span of 25 years, the group has employed over 3000 individuals, including 400 doctors and paramedics representing 35 different countries.

Thumbay Group operates in a wide range of sectors, including education, healthcare, research, and hospitality. How do you approach leading a conglomerate with diverse interests, and what strategies have you employed to ensure success across these various sectors?

At Thumbay Group, we adhere to the belief that ‘innovation is the catalyst for progress,’ a principle ingrained in our business DNA since our establishment in 1997. This dedication to setting new benchmarks in innovation is evident in our strategic approach. Rather than reacting to business demands or implementing haphazard changes, we have meticulously mapped out unique brand trajectories in harmony with our corporate strategy, focusing on innovation for sustained growth with well-defined and quantifiable objectives.

Our guiding principle, ‘Growth through Innovation,’ underscores our unwavering commitment to amplifying existing capabilities, sustaining a competitive edge, and enhancing overall operational efficiency. This ethos has been the driving force behind our extraordinary achievements and dynamic expansion throughout the years.

Innovation at Thumbay Group is more than a catchphrase; it is woven into our organisational fabric and informs every decision. We recognise that staying at the forefront of today’s swiftly evolving landscape demands perpetual innovation, a principle we wholeheartedly embrace.

 The establishment of Gulf Medical University marked a significant milestone in medical education in the UAE. Could you share the inspiration behind this endeavour and how it has impacted medical education locally and internationally?

In 1998, I was entrusted with the task of exploring the feasibility of establishing a medical college in the Emirate of Ajman by H.H. Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ajman. At the time, the concept I pursued was unprecedented in the UAE, prompting me to engage consultants for a comprehensive feasibility study.

During this process, it became evident that a seemingly insurmountable obstacle stood in the way of realising our business plans: the UAE’s Ministry of Higher Education needed to permit expatriates to obtain licenses for operating higher education institutions. This revelation meant that establishing a medical school would be infeasible. I promptly relayed this predicament to H.H. Sheikh Humaid.

What followed was nothing short of extraordinary: H.H. Sheikh Humaid issued a royal decree that authorised us to establish the educational institution. This momentous act laid the foundation for the creation of Gulf Medical College, which eventually evolved into the esteemed Gulf Medical University. This development also marked the genesis of Thumbay Group, which has since grown into a thriving international conglomerate. Today, we are a premium university and are the biggest and the only private university in the Gulf region owned by an Indian.

This achievement was unprecedented for an expatriate. We came into existence under a decree, a moment I shall never forget. 

Thumbay Group has made substantial contributions to the healthcare sector. Could you highlight some of the key achievements and innovations that have set Thumbay Hospitals apart in the region?

Thumbay Hospitals is the region’s largest network of private academic hospitals, distinguishing us significantly from other healthcare providers. Our four leading teaching hospitals in the UAE collectively contribute to training approximately 20% of the country’s doctors. The Thumbay Healthcare Division recently earned the esteemed ‘JCI Enterprise Accreditation from the Joint Commission International, an accolade held by only five healthcare groups worldwide. Our hospitals have provided care for over 10 million patients and facilitated more than 70,000 deliveries, serving individuals from 175 nationalities. All our hospitals incorporate an academic element and are well-equipped for research. 

Furthermore, our affiliation with Gulf Medical University (GMU) – Ajman is a cornerstone of our success. Many of our physicians also hold academic roles at the university, ensuring they remain abreast of the latest trends and advancements in the field of medicine, thereby fostering an academically enriched environment within our hospitals.

Thumbay Hospitals also reap substantial benefits from our collaborative biomedical research initiatives with GMU. This synergy markedly enhances the effectiveness of our clinical care. GMU’s establishment of the Institute of Precision Medicine and Translational Research and a cutting-edge Innovation Center propels medical innovation and provides a platform for healthcare researchers, biomedical innovators, and medical scientists in the region. Our dedication to research and innovation integrates the latest strides in the field of medicine, greatly benefiting our medical practitioners.

We are steadfast in our commitment to leverage our core missions in education, research, and healthcare delivery to devise solutions for national and regional healthcare challenges, ensuring the provision of accessible, cost-effective healthcare of verifiable quality.

How do you envision the group’s role in shaping the future of healthcare and education on a global scale? Looking ahead, what is your vision for the future of Thumbay Group? Are there any upcoming initiatives or expansion areas you are particularly excited about?

Reflecting on our incredible journey, this year holds special significance as we mark 25 years of remarkable progress. The recent implementation of a new corporate governance structure sets the stage for our ambitious five-year plan – Vision 2028. Our primary focus is on becoming more consumer-centric, with a concerted effort to enhance businesses that contribute substantial value to society. One of our key objectives is to double the intake of students in medical education, offering comprehensive programs that balance theoretical knowledge and hands-on training.

Additionally, we anticipate a two-fold increase in our healthcare business with the upcoming mandatory insurance scheme in the Northern Emirates. This strategic move is expected to triple the overall value of the group by 2028, driven by a combination of innovative initiatives and enhanced operational efficiency. We are invigorated and committed to many more years of responsible and forward-thinking operations.

Innovation has been at the core of our achievements at Thumbay Group. We firmly believe that ‘innovation is the key driver of growth.’ It permeates our corporate culture, guiding every decision we make. This commitment to innovation is evident in our strategic approach, where we emphasise the importance of not only enhancing existing capabilities but also maintaining a competitive edge and improving overall efficiency. This dedication to excellence has earned Thumbay Hospitals the prestigious “JCI Enterprise Accreditation” from the Joint Commission International, an honour bestowed upon only a few healthcare groups worldwide.

Adapting to dynamic market trends and evolving consumer demands, Thumbay Group is actively diversifying its portfolio. Notably, we’ve launched an Ed-Tech venture, Health-varsity, and this year saw the inauguration of the College of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare at Gulf Medical University. The Gulf Medical University Brand is also poised to extend its reach through a franchise/licensure model, opening new campuses in various counties.

With a comprehensive approach driven by meticulous market research and thorough analysis, we’ve strategically identified promising regions like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Egypt for expansion. Looking forward, our plans include the launch of the Thumbay Incubator Hub next year and the establishing of a state-of-the-art Thumbay College of Veterinary Medicine. Furthermore, we aim to extend our global presence through Thumbay Medical University’s strategic management contracts with healthcare centres and hospitals, creating a recognisable Thumbay Hospital brand worldwide. 

Additionally, we plan to expand the Blends & Brews Coffee Shoppe through a franchise model in various countries. At Thumbay Group, we envision not only growing our sustainable model brands but also tripling our overall value.


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