It was just two short years ago that Dana Al Jama, a 38-year-old Emirati, suffered severe panic attacks and was so claustrophobic that she could no longer stand to travel in a car to her job in Abu Dhabi.
In a state of despair, she turned to her doctor for help and was prescribed some medication. She knew, however, that the pills were "only burying, not solving the problem".
And that is how she came to seek out Seda Goksel, a self-taught healer from South Africa based in Dubai's Jumeirah who practises, among other things, reiki.
"I thought I had nothing to lose," says Al Jama. "I was dying slowly."
She had always believed in the power of positive energy and outlook, having read books such as The Secret and others by the self-help expert Louise Hay.
During reiki, the practitioner lays hands over the body's energy, or life force, points.
"If you go with an open mind, these things will always be more effective," she says.
After two weeks of intensive reiki healing sessions, Al Jama was feeling much better. A week later, she was back at work and driving again. Eventually, however, she let the sessions slide and two years later, she fell back to where she was before.
"I realised I needed to go back to Seda," she says. "Since then I've got much better. I feel much more in control of my life now. I see things much more philosophically and I feel more balanced in my physical and emotional life as well as being in better health."
The ancient Japanese relaxation technique, which aims to rebalance energy in the body, is practised across the UAE. There are reiki meetup groups in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, with hundreds of members getting together regularly; The Healing Zone, a wellness centre in Dubai, offers training in the technique.
Practitioners lay their hands over different energy points without touching the subject and pay attention to the body's seven chakras, from the crown of the head to the pelvis. Some believe reiki has special healing qualities.
Sam Razaghi, 37, attributes his still being in the UAE to reiki and his sessions with Goksel. After a series of personal and professional challenges, he felt trapped and wanted to return to his home country, Canada, just a few months ago.
Although the nightclub manager at Cirque du Soir is a regular kick-boxer who also consistently practises yoga, and knows how to channel negative emotions into more positive outlets, he lost his way.
He was at an all-time low when he turned to Goksel.
"I had so many negative thoughts and feelings," he recalls. "When you go to a psychologist, you just talk, you don't actually address these feelings and get that negative energy out."
After three months of the hour-long reiki sessions, Razaghi says he began to feel much calmer and stronger.
"It gave me hope," he says. "She let me let go of my past and see the future with clearer eyes."
Goksel, who has trained to be a reiki master, has always been interested in alternative healing. She attributes much of her clients' success to her "natural intuition", which she feels boosts her abilities to heal.
"From a long time ago, I felt like this was my true purpose and calling in life," she says. "Clients started telling me they were really feeling a difference but with what I do, it takes time. It's not about just doing one session; it's like going to the gym. The more they come, the more we can get into the issues they have, too."
Many of her clients just want to grow spiritually. Others seek help with specific problems, including grief, infertility issues or just feeling lost. "To some, I'm a bit like a psychologist," said Goksel, "but they feel more relaxed because it's more of a spiritual level than a medical one. They feel more comfortable."
You can find Seda Goksel Healing on Facebook; email email@example.com or phone 050 600 6968