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Interview with Habib Aoude, General Manager of Mideast Assistance

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Interview of Habib Aoude, General Manager of Mideast Assistance

This week we decided to highlight a brilliant initiative. Mideast Assistance a Lebanese company is providing international medical assistance to business and holiday travellers with plans to cover the whole region. Interview with the young executive manager Habib Aoude.

First Lebanon : Could you explain what exactly is Mideast Assistance ?

Habib Aoude : It is an assistance company which mainly provides international medical assistance. We aim at covering all the sectors of assistance on a Middle East level, such as Road assistance, legal assistance , domestic assistance and many more... We've been operating in this field for two years now.

FL : What is a medical assistance ?

HA : Very simply, it is the fact to take charge of people on a medical level when they are out of their country of residence. It may sound simple, it is not. We are dealing with health problems or accidents that sometimes occur in very remote countries, it requires a strong know how and expertise.

FL : Are their specific fields within this main activity.

HA : Absolutely. According to the encountered problem, we will have to deal with different issues :
- Repatriation in an ambulance aircraft.
- On field urgency cares, even hospitalisation.
- Transportation to join the contracting person.
- Repatriation of mortal remains.
But many other services accompany this main assistance : children repatriation, remote medical diagnostic, travel information services, loss of baggage are the most familiar..

FL : Do you have competitors on this market ?

HA : Of course we do ! And we are expecting more because it is a promising field.

FL : Who are your services addressed to ?

HA : Our services are addressed to people leaving in Middle East countries who are travelling abroad for business or holiday. In addition, we want to create a service for people coming from abroad to this region of the world. We offer them the assistance of a specialised medical network as well as an access to an alarm centre which covers the whole Middle East and North Africa region.

FL: Could you tell us about the strategy you plan to implement to expand ?

HA: Our assistance products are already distributed through travel agencies in Lebanon and Syria and we want to extend our resellers network to the neighbouring countries on the same model: through partnerships with travel agents.
The market and our expectations are great, foreign embassies compel people applying for a visa to subscribe to this kind of assistance. There has been many non covered people hospitalised in Europe or America and in this case the hospitalisation is at the charge of the hospital itself. From now on, you'll have to be insured to get a visa.

FL: So future looks promising ?

HA: Indeed. Once the outgoing system will cover the region, we will work on a similar one for the incoming, and it will not take so long to reach this coverage for both incoming and outgoing. Then partnerships with internationally renown assistance companies will be reachable and we'll start working on the same standards as in Europe or developed countries.

FL: What is the difference between a medical assistance and a travel insurance ?

HA: The difference lays in the fact that an assistance covers only the emergencies and the first aids happening during the trip. As a travel insurance covers the same risks as in the country of origin, in addition to this, the price of the medical assistance is cheaper than the travel insurance.

Beirut , October 28 2002
Yann Rotil