10 of the best co-working spaces and cafes in Dubai

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Think all workspaces are boring? Not these creative hangouts…

It’s estimated that we will spend 35 per cent of our lives in the office, so for those not lucky enough to have the bells and whistles – and slides, real slides – of companies like Google or Facebook, it might be worth freshening up your surroundings.

With its host of entrepreneurs, start-ups, freelancers and digital nomads, Dubai has plenty of alternative places to set up shop. From co-working spaces to cafes, here are some of the best spots to work from in Dubai.

CO-WORKING SPACES

1. AstroLabs

As disappointed as we were to discover this wasn’t anything to do with the UAE Space Agency’s astronaut recruitment programme, technology is indeed at the heart of the AstroLabs ethos. Located in JLT, the sun streams into the venue and illuminates a huge ‘Make It Happen’ sign on the wall as tech start-ups beaver away at their projects. It’s a real community feel with success stories front and centre – partnerships with IBM and Google For Entrepreneurs represent a major draw, as well as the restaurants within a minute’s walk, of course.

Cluster R, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, daily 24 hours. Tel: (04) 424 1159. Metro: Damac Properties. astrolabs.com

2. 1776 Dubai

The original 1776 in Washington, DC, has welcomed many famous visitors, and pictures on the wall of the Dubai branch show Barack Obama, Richard Branson and David Cameron embracing the venue’s entrepreneurial spirit. The big draw of 1776 is that as a start-up incubator it has an extensive mentorship network, as well as close proximity (metaphorically and physically – it’s metres away) to the creative tech arm of Dubai Government: The Dubai Future Foundation. Membership starts from Dhs370 per month.

Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel, The Boulevard, Dubai, Mon to Sat 6am to 3am, Sun 6am to midnight. Tel: (04) 427 2100. Metro: Emirates Towers. 1776.vc/dubai

3. Impact Hub

Taking the European hostel vibe and running with it, Impact Hub offers a sofa-bed for those determined to work long into the night. It’s just one quirk of this creative centre, which has a series of cool desk and office spaces. There’s complimentary coffee (a ‘tips’ jar helps keep it that way) and a PlayStation, while members – ‘Hubsters’ – get access to Impact’s 92 global branches. If you need us, we’ll be busy setting up What’s On Bogota…

304 B Saaha Offices, Souk Al Bahr, Dubai, Sat to Thur 9am to 6pm. Tel: (04) 375 4444. Taxi: Souk Al Bahar car park, Saaha Offices. Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall. impacthub.ae

4. A4 Space

Given its location at Alserkal Avenue, the hotbed of Dubai’s art scene, our postmodern interpretation of A4’s name is that it represents a blank sheet of paper on which to forge one’s working identity. You certainly don’t need to be arty to appreciate the space, which is totally free of charge to use and has great Wi-fi, plus a cinema and a mezzanine level with a community library. The cafe is an absolute winner, too, with delicious organic produce and brews from homegrown favourite Raw Coffee Company.

Warehouse 4, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, Sat to Thur 10am to 7pm. Tel: (050) 5569797. Taxi: Alserkal Avenue. alserkalavenue.ae

5. The Cribb

Mixing work and play, The Cribb is located above The Football Center in Al Quoz and offers permanent members discounted five-a-side rates and ping pong table access. The facility is split into two halves, the first of which – The Cantina – is free to the public, offering great coffee and food from suppliers including La Maison and Laqmouche. Permanent and semi-permanent space is also available, with access to meeting rooms and networking events. The Cribb has previously played host to TripAdvisor, so we’re expecting five-star reviews all round.

Al Quoz, Dubai, Sun to Thur 8am to 8pm, Sat 9am to 5pm. Tel: (04) 319 7645. Taxi: The Football Center, near Tom & Serg, Al Quoz. the cribb.co

6. The Bureau

Directly above Impact Hub, The Bureau has free one-day working passes available for its intimate space, with the cost thereafter from Dhs50 per day and Dhs300 per month. Deliveroo started life in Dubai here, won over by the easy access to the awesome selection of eateries next door in Souk Al Bahar. Trendy touches abound but we particularly enjoyed the little room designated for phone calls, which has a massive red London phone box painted on the door.

530 B Saaha Offices, Souk Al Bahar, Dubai, Sun to Thur 8.30am to 6pm, Sat 10am to 3pm. Tel: (04) 427 2100. Taxi: Souk Al Bahar Car Park, Saaha Offices. Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall. thebureaudubai.com

CAFES

7. The Daily

Many freelancers were left devastated when the Emaar Pavilion in Downtown Dubai closed, its long tables and leafy walls consigned to the big co-working space in the sky. But like a phoenix, The Daily at the Rove Downtown hotel has risen to replace the Pavilion – even resurrecting its legendary Bench Brunch. The tables might not be quite as long, but the space is certainly just as bright and airy, while the extensive salad bar provides a great lunchtime option for the health-conscious in the city.

Rove Downtown, Downtown Dubai, Dubai, daily 6.30am to 9.30pm. Tel: (04) 561 9000. Taxi: Rove Hotel. rovehotels.com

8. CafeM

Since opening in 2009, Media One Hotel has been a staple for those working in Media City, and CafeM has proven one of its most popular venues for daytime dining and business meetings. There’s valet parking, a range of healthy snacks and meals – CafeM also seems to have a chair for every mood (high, low, comfy sofas – you name it). There is a big group desk with plenty of power points and, we kid you not, even some monkeys hidden among the greenery. End up working late? Dive into cheese and wine promotions between Tuesday and Thursday or pick any one of Media One’s other bars and restaurants, including the newly-opened Qwerty.

Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City, Sun to Thur 7am to 11pm, Fri and Sat 9am to 11pm. Tel: (04) 427 1000. Taxi: Media One Hotel. mediaonehotel.com   

9. Make Art Cafe

A surprising find in the heart of historic Bur Dubai, Make Art Cafe blends tradition and modernity to great effect. Artwork adorns the walls and exhibitors change regularly in this courtyard cafe, which serves fantastic fresh juices and smoothies. It’s a relaxed, cosy location and given the surrounding heritage sites, we half expected the Wi-fi to be generated by a caravan of camels. Which reminds us, the camel milk ice cream from local supplier Nouq is well worth a try.

Al Fahidi Street, Bur Dubai, Dubai, daily 9am to 7pm. Tel: (04) 388 9134. Metro: Al Fahidi. makebusinesshub.com

10. 1762 Stripped

Their citywide delis have been delighting office dwellers for years but it is 1762’s JLT venue that is most conducive to a spot of laptop lounging. Exposed beams, sprawling leather sofas – it’s everything you wished your house was, never mind your office. There are plenty of quiet nooks and crannies, and spaces to sit solo, but we prefer to sociably slide up to strangers on the communal working table. Even if they don’t. The breakfasts are particularly dreamy. Though be warned: The week may start with a healthy plate of smashed avocado and eggs, but you can’t fight the inevitable descent into French toast.

JLT One, Dubai, daily 8am to 4pm. Tel: (800) 1762. Taxi: JLT One. 1762.ae

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