Healthcare in the Middle East is an industry transitioning towards global cohesiveness. Since 1998, when the Dubai heath authority introduced the concept of primary healthcare, adopting the motto of the World Health Organization, “Health for All by the year 2000,” the healthcare sector in the Middle East has been feverishly busy. Nine years later, according to the International Medical Travel Journal, “countries from United Arab Emirates to Qatar and Saudi Arabia are pushing to dramatically expand and improve their health care systems. The region's ruling families are recruiting brand name U.S. medical institutions and private investors, with plans over the next 20 years to more than quadruple the estimated $12 billion currently spent annually on healthcare.” Presently more than 100 hospitals are in the planning stages for future construction in the Middle East and North Africa.

The following healthcare facilities in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are receiving worldwide attention for their cutting-edge design and forward thinking amenities.

University Hospital

The University Hospital (UH), part of Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Academic Medical Center of Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) was selected for the hospital build award for Best Hospital Design of the Future at the inaugural Hospital Build Middle East Exhibition and Congress in Dubai, June 14-16 2009. This award recognizes excellence in design, and operation management of healthcare facilities in the Middle East.

The 18-story, 400-bed, state-of-the-art hospital designed by global healthcare specialists of Ellerbe Becket and their Interior Design Director Karim Khemakhem fuses regional cultural values with a modern design. “The interior design is more contemporary and international in style. This communicates to the client that the healthcare provided will be world class and include all the latest technologies and practices,” says Khemakhem.

The 1.40 million-square-foot building is best known for its daylighting properties, which is enhanced by a two layer glass building faéade, increasing natural light flow while eliminating glare and thermal intensity. “We have designed the University Hospital with the highest standards in mind, incorporating the latest advances in care technology and healing in a building that fuses the best of modernism with the traditional architecture of the region,” says Mic Johnson, Design Principal for Ellerbe Becket.

University Hospital, Dubai, UAE

Images courtesy of Ellerbe Becket

University Hospital, Dubai, UAE

The comfort of the patient and their family remains at the forefront of this hospital's design. The rooftop Health Club is for use by caregivers in addition to patients, with salon and spa facilities that emulate a five-star hotel. Additionally, the award-winning hospital increases patient accessibility and promotes a multidisciplinary care approach through the design of the buildings flexible floor plates. This efficient design manipulation allows the hospital to adapt to the ever changing needs of its patients, their families, and future medical technologies, promoting a sustainable approach for the life cycle of this healthcare building.

The University Hospital will open in 2011 and previously won a Citation of Merit in HEALTHCARE DESIGN's International Showcase issue October 2008.

Moorfields Eye Hospital

Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai (MEHD), an extension of the Moorfields ophthalmic institution in London, has received high accolades for its design, winning Best Institutional and Public Sector Design of the Year at the Commercial Interior Design Awards 2007. Designed by Mohamed Kafel, Design Manager of Hamilton Designs, MEHD was described by the judges as “an interpretation of the venerable British institution that perfectly blended aesthetic beauty and function.”

MEHD is best known for its extremely colorful interior and perfect use of lighting, which is integral for their patients with sensitive eyes. “I was given free reign in terms of colour and style, and was able to use a range of lighting palettes. Lighting is crucial for people with sight problems, because it can be frustrating if it is too bright or too dim. The intention was to create a place that feels restful and vibrant, but is functional at the same time,” says Kafel. MEHD is not only a modern healthcare facility but also is welcoming. Patients and their family members are welcomed in the reception area by intricately etched glass panels and beautiful canvases of artwork. Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai is located at the Al Razi Medical Complex in Dubai Healthcare City and opened in June 2007.

Sidra Medical and Research Center

Sidra Medical and Research Center in Doha, Qatar designed by Cesar Pelli of Pelli Clarke Pelli, in conjunction with architects at Ellerbe Becket, celebrating the sky. The medical center incorporates numerous elements of nature in the design as a means to improve patient healing and recovery.

The modern steel and glass structure serves as the envelope for dramatic indoor atriums and extensive healing gardens with water features, which can be seen and heard from all patient rooms. The atriums additionally help to divide the hospital into three smaller facilities-one for child care, one for women's care, and for general care. Furthermore, the medical center will feature nine floors and 412 large, private rooms to accommodate both patients and their families. To circulate this large scale facility, an intuitive wayfinding system reflecting urban design strategies will be incorporated into the design.

“Sidra Medical and Research Center is world class not only in terms of the technology inside but also in terms of its striking design. It is exceptional in its beauty, as well as the superior quality of care it will offer to the people of Qatar,” says Engineer Saad Al Muhannadi, Qatar Foundation's vice-president for capital projects.

The Sidra Medical and Research Center is scheduled to open in 2010, and its $7.9 billion endowment is the largest endowment of a medical centre anywhere in the world.
Sidra Medical and Research Center

Illustration courtesy of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

Sidra Medical and Research Center

Al Jalila Children's Specialty Hospital

Al Jalila Children's Specialty Hospital, designed by Studio Altieri International, will be the first green hospital in Dubai. The 300 bed healthcare facility will run partly on solar energy through solar panel-photovoltaics. Additionally, an active wall faéade system using the HVAC aspiration system will provide thermal comfort and stability and the gardens in the terraces and on the roof will furthermore increase thermal insulation for the building. A water re-use system will also be utilized.

Al Jalila Children's Specialty Hospital is located in Dubai Health Care City and is scheduled to open in 2011.

Al Maktoum Accident and Emergency Hospital

Architecture and design firm Perkins Eastman has unveiled the design of the 300 bed Al Maktoum Accident and Emergency (A&E) Hospital. The hospital combines the most advanced healthcare solution with a beautiful design. The emergency hospital includes a five floor nursing unit, which provides improved flexibility for treatment and patient recovery. “Based on our experience with large-scale, complex care facilities, we believe that the Al Maktoum A&E Hospital will create a new standard for innovative, patient centered care, in the UAE,” says Jonathan N. Stark, AIA, Principal and Managing Director of Perkins Eastman International.

Al Maktoum Accident and Emergency Hospital will be located in Jabel Ali and its design was unveiled in Spring 2009. HD

Samantha Sirzyk, ASID student member, is an MFA candidate for Interior Design at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Healthcare Design 2009 October;9(10):16-20