Comfortable furniture. Soft music. Exceptional customer service. Such amenities may seem fit for a luxury hotel, but they're increasingly being brought into a growing number of boutique hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout the Emirates.
"General hospitals tend to be more clinical in their approach," says Advet Bhambhani, the chief executive and founder of Lifeline Healthcare, which operates one boutique hospital in Jebel Ali and is doubling the size of its medical centre in Bur Dubai to 40,000 square feet.
"We just wanted to create a very, very warm environment" - and in the process a thriving business.
Conceived in part as a local alternative to medical tourism destinations in Singapore and elsewhere in Asia, the goal with this kind of approach is to ensure the recovery experience feels "very homey, so you don't feel like you're in a hospital. It would seem more like a spa, rather than institutional," says Mohammed al Shorafa, the chief executive of UEmedical, a healthcare investment company that already operates three medical centres in Abu Dhabi and plans to open another 10 within five years.
These tactics are part of a larger effort to create a niche in the UAE's blossoming healthcare sector, which is expected to grow from US$6.6 billion (Dh24.24bn) to US$11bn by 2013.
According to the market research firm RNCOS, developed markets average three hospital beds for every 1,000 people. But in the UAE, there were fewer than two beds for every 1,000 last year.
While the executives admit their facilities are not the only ones trying to provide a plusher environment for patients, both have tried to gain an advantage by entering early into their corners of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Mr al Shorafa is pushing to open a boutique family clinic later this year on the island development of Al Bandar, which he says will make it the only healthcare facility conveniently located near Al Raha Beach.
Meanwhile, Mr Bhambhani says he conceived his boutique hospital idea for Jebel Ali back in 2002, before many of the nearby residences and other business amenities were constructed.
After originally catering to a high-end clientele, he also diversified his business model and opened a separate corporate clinic for uninsured workers in the area who wanted subsidised care.
Mr Bhambhani, 34, previously helped to set up 800 Doctor, an on-call service that gets local doctors to someone's doorsteps within an hour.
He says he tries to find employees who can help elicit smiles from patients and makes it a point to meet with every new candidate before they are officially brought on board, whether they're a doctor, nurse or janitorial cleaner for a hospital ward.
"The last interview is always with me," says Mr Bhambhani, who oversees 30 employees but is expecting to manage more than 500 once new boutique medical centres are fully operational, such as the Uptown Mirdiff Hospital in Dubai.
In Abu Dhabi, Mr al Shorafa has turned to one of the most customer-centric companies on Earth for training expertise: Disney. "We signed an agreement with [a division of] Disney," he says. "They send us [employees] to train our customer service team, and how to deal with clients."
Mr al Shorafa, who oversees 60 employees, needs to ramp up that figure to more than 500 by the time Danat Al Emarat Women and Children's Hospital starts operating next year in Abu Dhabi Gate City.
The executives share a similar goal.
"We try to make sure [patients] go out with a smile," says Mr Bhambhani. "They never come in with one."