Is traditional Chinese medicine gaining popularity in the UAE?
Alternative methods of healing, or – in this case, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) – may be sought after by specific communities or groups within the UAE, but why is it struggling to gain popularity in the UAE or the GCC region?
Deyuan Wei is a Chinese UAE national, who represents TongRenTang Group, a Chinese pharmaceutical company, says this is due to several challenges faced by industry players.
One of these is the small number of certified clinics and healing centers that offer authentic TCM.
“TCM is practiced only in specialised clinics and the number of accredited practitioners is extremely limited,” Deyuan says, adding that there are only 15 or so clinics that offer TCM in the UAE.
From her experience in the field, Deyuan says she has noticed that, in many cases, people seek alternative medicine only as a last resort.
Meanwhile, some members of the industry, including doctors and pharmaceutical distributors, are not “confident enough” about it.
She also notes that registering these medicines can be a challenging procedure. “Even after the successful registration of products with the Ministry of Health, making the products available on the shelves in most of the chain pharmacies and hospitals has been challenging,” she adds. TonRenTang products are registered with the ministry.
TonRenTang is one of the companies bringing TCM to the UAE. The brand has been operating a traditional healing center for the past two years in Dubai Healthcare City and has recently opened a second branch in Dragon Mart.
“Dragon Mart, which is now called Dragon City, is the second largest Chinese product distribution centre in the world,” she says, adding that the new extension of the centre brings “better facilities, a better shopping environment and a better place to explore good-quality Chinese products.”
“We are a renowned Chinese medicine brand… I can’t think of a better place for us to be,” she says.
While her brand is making quite a strong presence in the Gulf country, Deyuan says the majority of Chinese pharmaceutical companies “have not started marketing their products in the region,” so there is no awareness among the UAE’s population about the products.
“We need to create awareness and ensure residents are well educated that these Chinese wonders do actually exist in the market,” she explains.
However, on the opposite side of the spectrum, TCM is almost a lifestyle for some, as they strongly believe in it and its benefits.
According to Deyuan, some of the top treatments demanded at the clinic include “infertility, menstruation disorders, menopause, insomnia, stress and depression, neck and back joint pain, high blood pressure, complications related to diabetes and rehabilitation after strokes,” among others.