Dubai never makes the list of digital nomad hotspots for good reason. The UAE is intolerably hot and humid for half the year. Everything natural is flat and beige, and lots of the man-made stuff is too. And it’s hard to win at the currency arbitrage game in one of the richest countries in the world.
But digital nomads do end up in Dubai, and sometimes they need a place to get some work done. In a city of cafes full of stroller brigades or cigarette smoke (or both), here are a couple work spots with reliable wifi, good design, and other people doing interesting things.
MAKE Business Hub
MAKE Business Hub is a co-working space and café on the first floor of an office tower in Dubai Marina. The open concept space is light and simple, with wood floors, floor to ceiling windows, and concrete and metal accents. There are low and high desks for two and four people, all with power outlets, and three glass-walled rooms with benches and TV screens for team meetings.
For AED39 (CAD$11) you get a drink from the in-house café and use of the space and wifi for three hours. MAKE also offers 5 hour, full day and week-long packages, each a combination of space/wifi use and food and drink. MAKE also hosts skillshares and events, and has a networking wall where users can offer or seek skills from others.
MAKE is walking distance to the shops, restaurants and public beach at Jumeirah Beach Residences so there’s lots to do in the area when your workday is done.
MAKE is a 10 minute walk from the Jumeirah Lake Towers Metro station.
The Archive is a library and café in a converted utility building in one of Dubai’s oldest parks. The low, white concrete modernist structure has been tastefully renovated with concrete floors and floor to ceiling glass walls. Dark wood double-sided bookshelves do double-duty creating rooms within the open space and holding an impressive collection of books about art and design. Seating options include small tables lining the glass with views to grass and palm trees, larger collective tables in bookcase nooks and outdoor seating under umbrellas.
The Archive is one in a series of successful design-forward additions to the Dubai scene by twin brothers Ahmed and Rashid Bin Shabib. This pair is also behind Dubai’s The Pavilion, The Magazine Shop, and Brownbook a well-known magazine on urban culture in the Middle East.
The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is an economic free zone in central Dubai with the largest concentration of financial institutions between Europe and Singapore. The Dubai government went with the “spend money to make money” philosophy so DIFC has some of the nicest outdoor public spaces and landscaping in the Emirate. The free zone has also become one of Dubai’s art hubs, with several prominent galleries located at the base of the office buildings.
The Balcony, an elevated terrace around the perimeter of the DIFC Gate Village has several restaurants and cafes with comfortable outdoor seating and wifi. For an indoor option with an interesting clientele, try one of the branches of The Magazine Shop. DIFC is a great place to do some work, watch the chain-smoking army of bankers in blue suits teeter on the edge of heart attacks and remember why you went nomad in the first place.
DIFC is a 10 minute walk from the Emirates Towers Metro station.
Many a blog post has been written to debunk the myth that location independent work means you, your laptop and an umbrella drink on the beach. But in Dubai, if you want to work at the beach you can. The Beach at JBR has comfortable wooden lounge chairs and free wifi on the recently-completed public beach. If you’re afraid of getting sand in your keyboard, set up in one of the many outdoor cafes across the cycle path from the beach. But be warned, it’s sunny everyday and the water is warm and inviting so productivity may suffer.
The JBR public beach is a 15 minute walk from the Jumeirah Lake Towers Metro station.