Fitness Industry


All around the world, people are now more conscious of their way of living and want to follow a healthier lifestyle. This concept of keeping fit has taken the world by storm, and the fitness industry is becoming one of the most profitable industry in the world. There has been a growth of 8.7% globally in the fitness sector, and this growth will sustain over a more extended period of time.

The United Arab Emirates has, unlike most of the Gulf Cooperation Countries, one of the most open economies. This has been possible due to the high number of ex-pats coming in the country to stay and set up their business in the country. With new companies in the region, there has been more disposable income in the hands of the resident people which they can use to stay fit and healthy.

The setting up of new businesses has also increased the cases of conditions such as hypertension, obesity, stress, cardiovascular diseases and many other conditions which are caused by not remaining fit and healthy and has increased the business opportunities of the fitness equipment market, gyms and nutritionists.

Global Scenario of the Fitness Industry

There has been a substantial increase in the number of wellness and fitness related companies as the people are now giving preference to having a healthier lifestyle. The global fitness industry is valued, at present, at nearly $100 billion. According to a report by the International Health, Racquet and Sports-club Association it was found that the number of people availing a membership in a gym or a fitness boutique has been increased by almost 121% in between 2013 and 2017.

The global fitness and the health club market combines have been valued at $85.20 billion in the year 2017, and the aim of this Industry is to reach a minimum of $105 billion by the year 2025. This huge demand has led to new opportunities in the field of personal fitness and also provides vast scope for the fitness equipment industry.

As we all know that the United Arab Emirates has one of the most open and diversified economies, which will provide a massive boost to the fitness industry in the Middle East.

Past of Fitness Industry in UAE

In the initial days, the people in the United Arab Emirates were not so knowledgeable about their personal fitness as the had various other things in their mind such as the climate of the region, the thinking of the society, etc. Slowly and steadily, the public became aware of the benefits of having a healthy lifestyle.

There were many businesses that were set up in the country, which was a significant reason for the increase in the demand for such fitness services. The fitness industry has become a slowly rising industry in the UAE, and it is expected that this industry will grow further.

Even the government has provided various benefits to the country and also offers multiple incentives if a business is set up in the Industry. A rise in the medical conditions among the people such as Stress, Diabetes, Obesity etc. along with an increase in the medical costs are also a big reason why there a greater need and demand in the Industry.

The UAE is a potential market for fitness-related Industry, and this Industry is supported by the growing healthcare tourism. The healthcare sector in the UAE has also seen considerable growth in the last few decades and forms a significant reason for attracting people in business and entrepreneurs from all over the world.

Present Condition of the Fitness Industry in UAE

In the past few years, the country of UAE has been facing many challenges in relation to healthcare and fitness. These problems include High rates of obesity and diabetes. These are basically faced by the people due to the unhealthy lifestyle of the people.

The government has understood the cause of such problems and has taken steps that will help the people of the region to get active. The government has started with a fitness challenge programme called Dubai's Fitness Challenge. The 2018 edition of this challenge witnessed the participation of more than a million people.

This challenge included more than 8,000 free classes offered in 250 locations all across the emirate of Dubai. This programme was even expanded which had 30 events which included The Colour run, Daman City Swim, the Z3JR Triathlon and the Emirate NBD Unity Run.

The government holds the Dubai Muscle show, which is a primary reason for bringing in fitness enthusiasts together. Initially, the country had an approach of one size fits all to fitness and health, but this concept is slowly dying. Recently, the Dubai Muscle Show launched a new segment called Dubai Active. This segment provides a platform to the emerging companies in the Industry and highlights their unique and innovative approach for fitness and well-being.

Advantages of the Fitness Industry in UAE

The flourishing real estate market, the state of the art infrastructure and the presence of dedicated placed to set up the business provide a massive boost to the newer and smaller companies. As the supplementary industries of healthcare and medical tourism have seen a growth, the Fitness Industry is bound to grow in the near future.

Some of the significant advantages of setting up a Fitness Industry in the UAE are:

1. Growing Demand of the Industry

The increasing awareness of the people all around the world has made the Fitness Industry as a very lucrative and beneficial business to pursue in the UAE. A substantial number of people are trying to make their lifestyle healthy as they have now understood the benefits of taking care of ones’ health.    

2. Varied Range of Option for developing a Business

There is a range of set up options present to a businessman in the UAE. One can either take up a franchise of a business, partner with any other company in the industry or start very own business. The type of business structure should be chosen depending upon the business requirements and the activity which is performed.

3. Target Audience

Fitness is required by everyone no matter the job he or she is performing. Physical and Mental fitness is essential for children as well as adults. This means that there is an enormous target market for the Industry.

4. Business Opportunities

As told in the previous point, the target market is enormous and diverse. This means that there is an excellent opportunity for business. The opportunity could present itself in the form of a fitness resort, a gym or any other new and innovative idea which will keep the health of the people in check.

5. A Sure-Fire Revenue

In most of the businesses, the management will receive a revenue every year, but this is not the case with the fitness industry. A person needs to pay the respective fees every month irrespective of whether the person is availing the services or not. This guarantees a constant source of revenue for the business.

6. Flexible Size

A business is set up with the intention of growing it further. A fitness business requires comparatively fewer resources to expand further, and when needed, this business can be very easily expanded in services being provided or in size of the company. 

7. Strong and Growing Industry

Fitness of a person is paramount, no matter the situation of the time.  In specific industries, there is a rise and fall of the business depending upon the economy of the country. over the past couple of decades, there has been a rise in the number of the people which are purchasing the fitness club memberships, and it is expected that this trend will further continue.

Future of the Fitness Industry

The United Arab Emirates is one of the largest and potential markets for fitness and the related business. As the country has understood the importance of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the development of the economy of the country, it has taken steps to attract more foreign businesses to the country. With the increasing ex-pat population, there is a considerable demand for fitness-related services and equipment.

There is a huge demand for fitness centres in the United Arab Emirates and the Fitness Services market is mostly driven by the health-conscious population under the age of 15-64. These fitness centres offer a range of services to its members which include a swimming pool, an in-house juice bar, sports facility and many other facilities.

One of the biggest reason for the growth of the fitness industry in the United Arab Emirates is the shift in the behaviour of the resident population, which includes the ever-increasing ex-pat population. The focus of the people is more towards being fit and healthy. This has helped in the development of group exercises such as Zumba, Pilates, Cross fit, Martial Arts, Power Yoga and various other forms of group exercises. There is also substantial growth in the number of gyms and other bodybuilding centres in the United Arab Emirates.    

The provision of world-class healthcare to the people of United Arab Emirates and ensuring the health and fitness of the resident people is one of the six pillars of the UAE National Agenda which is in line with the UAE Vision 2021. The government of the UAE has also launched three initiatives which will play a key role in promoting the well-being of the people of the UAE. This will also include establishing the UAE well-being Model for Residential Communities, implementation of a Community Wellbeing Nutrition Program and adoption of the Community Program for Active Lifestyle.

The Community Wellbeing Nutrition Program initiative will promote well-being by establishing standards for consumers, manufacturers and suppliers, in addition to implementing a set of motivational and educational community programs and activities on nutrition for all segments of the society.

The Community Program for Active Lifestyle seeks to establish a national program that promotes well-being by encouraging the different segments of society to exercise and improve their lifestyle. It further aims to avail the UAE public and covered facilities to community members and work on increasing their numbers and developing them.

Many health experts are urging the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Countries to give out rewards to the people who follow healthy living. This decision has been taken after concerns of the rising obesity levels and various other problems caused due to lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle. With this in mind, Dubai has launched a Fitness Challenge whose main aim is to transform the city of Dubai into the most dynamic city in the world.

National Strategy for Wellbeing 2031

The National Strategy for Wellbeing 2031 is a strategy that has been adopted by the UAE cabinet which is chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. This strategy aims at making the United Arab Emirates as a world leader in the quality of life of its resident and also focused on the well-being of the people of the country.

The National Strategy for Wellbeing 2013 supports the Vision 2021 and the UAE Centennial 2071. The National Strategy will include 90 initiatives which will target more than 40 areas of priority. It will monitor many indicators and will submit regular reports to the UAE cabinet. After reviewing the report, the committee will suggest training programs which will further help the people to live a healthy life.

The National Wellbeing Strategy 2031 of UAE will work both on the national level and also on the community level. On the federal level, the strategy will ensure that there is an economy that is prosperous, and the government works at its effective and efficient levels. With the help of this strategy, the people of the nation will be in a better shape which will allow them to work more effectively and profitably and also help in the reduction of the total amount of resources used by a company.

On a community level, the strategy will promote a co-operative community and positive values in the country. The approach will help in creating positive environments for work and education, empower individuals and provide them with opportunities for growth and development, and focusing on building secure, meaningful, positive digital communities.

And most importantly, the National Wellbeing Strategy of 2031 will promote a healthy and active lifestyle, good mental health, positive thinking and useful life skills.

Initiatives are taken up by the Government of the United Arab Emirates

Some of the initiatives of the government of the United Arab Emirates, which will help achieve the aim of this strategy are as follows:

Initiative to Increase Awareness about a Healthy Lifestyle

One of the primary objective of this strategy to increase community awareness about the importance of physical activity, healthy food, and abstaining from tobacco. The strategy will help boost the community’s capability to adopt healthy lifestyles and will help in creating a supportive healthcare environment for the people of the UAE. This strategy will also encourage the involvement of local communities and civil society organizations for the promotion of health awareness programs.

You make the Change Campaign

This campaign is a part of the various initiatives which have been launched by the Ministry of Health and Prevention to reduce the obesity that has been running in the country. Through this campaign, people are trying to spread awareness about obesity and the risk it poses to human health. This campaign works in line with the National Agenda 2021.

Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC)

The Dubai Fitness Challenge, also known as Dubai 30X30 is an annual celebration of all things related to the physical and mental fitness of a person in Dubai. This initiative was launched in the year 2017, and it challenges every person in the city to complete 30 minutes of activity every day for 30 days. The goal of the DFC is to cultivate fitness-focused mind-sets of the people and help them to live a healthier and active lifestyle.

MA’KOM Initiative

This initiative is an awareness campaign which will help the people of the United Arab Emirates in gaining knowledge about the benefits of performing physical activities. This campaign also tries to clarify the idea that physical activity does not limit to gyms. This campaign aims to encourage the Emirati society to exercise and perform physical activities, and a healthy and simple lifestyle will be a prerequisite for it.

Art of Health Competition

The ‘Art for Health’ competition is a new and innovative way to raise awareness about healthy lifestyle choices and encourages the youth of the country to get involved and follow a simplified and healthy way of living. This competition is backed by the Government of the United Arab Emirates.

Healthy Restaurant Initiative

This is a unique initiative taken up by the government of the United Arab Emirates and the Dubai Government. This initiative encourages the restaurant owners to provide healthy eating options in a restaurant. In this way, the restaurant will be able to contribute to making the people of the country healthy.

There are various other initiatives that have been taken up by the government of the UAE, which will assist in making the population of the country healthy and fit. The numerous initiatives taken up by the government has helped to generate various business opportunities for businesses coming into the country.

Business Opportunities in the Fitness Industry in UAE

There is an increasing number of opportunities in the fitness sector as there is an increased demand for high-end gyms which provide professional facilities. Apart from the gyms, there is an increasing demand for complementary services such as gym equipment, nutritionists, fitness spas, health clubs and any other business related to fitness and well-being of people.

Cardio training fitness equipment segment is a leading constituent of the overall UAE fitness equipment market share. Majority of the gyms and health clubs are present in the emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but the rest of the emirates are also catching up with them. The gyms in Dubai and Abu Dhabi bring in most of the revenue, and this revenue is expected to increase in the coming years.

There is also an increased demand for Boutique fitness studios, healthy eateries, and the spa industry. The reason for a greater interest in these fitness entities is the gradually decreasing cost of the sessions and the increasing disposable income of the people. The people are also now more conscious about their health and want to live a healthy life.

One of the latest addition to the business opportunities is the use of apps and wearables. The usage of these apps and wearables are gradually increasing, and now, more and more people are using these to stay fit and in shape.

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