Iâm frequently asked where I like to write in Dubai. Experts advise not to work from the couch in your pajamas, but I do it all the time and am highly productive in leopard print. Beyond my chaise lounge I have five firm favourite cafes, which I rotate like my collection of striped frocks with pockets. All of these spaces have lovely music, free wi fi, natural light, lots of electrical outlets for recharging gadgets, and the proprietors like the ambience that writers, readers, and freelancers bring, so you donât need to worry about sitting a while with pen or watercolour brush in hand. Thanks to my friends over at kate spade new yorkÂ for providing the quirky accessories to brighten up my spring wardrobe (and this post).
The quintessential neighborhood bookstore cafĂ© is cute as a button in hot pink and lime green, with a communal table at the front with magnificent natural light. This is the perfect place for a secret-spillingÂ girly lunch or to bring your little bookworm to read and write. I took a short break out from writing a poem to take a peek at âStuff Every Husband Should Knowâ by Eric San Juan. How charming! Perhaps Iâll tuck this tiny tome into the pocket of my husbandâs pinstripe suit one morning. I was glad to spyÂ the latest volumes of Dubai-based poets Frank Dullaghan, Rewa Zeinati, and Zeina Hashem Beck displayed on a table. I also fell in love with a cookbook titled, âFairytale Food: Enchanting recipes to bring a little magic to your cooking.â Book Munch does in fact feel like the kind of cafĂ© that would appear in a romantic comedy, the kind of place whereÂ it's possible to fall instantly in love with a stranger or aÂ book.
Costa Coffee (DIFC Branch)
I stick out like a flamingo in a sea of sleek-suited ravens in DIFC. I always feel thrilled not to be wearing a suit like everyone else. Even the cappuccinos arrive with a $ written in chocolate powder atop a cloud of foam. Just another day of hustling in DIFC? I love this cafĂ© for its long, communal work table, wait staff who take time to learn your name, views of the Burj Khalifa, great acoustics in case Iâm meeting someone for an important conversation, and cozy mid-century modern dĂ©cor. Itâs also just across a steel bridge from the DIFC art galleries in case I want to take a break to check out the latest shows and fall in art love. Once my buildingâs power went out and I was on deadline and no one batted an eyelash extension when I sat typing away at the same table for six hours straight here. Thanks, Costa DIFC!
A4 Space on Alserkal Avenue
I spend the day at A4 Space when I get tired of awkwardly drinking a single expensive cappuccino over the course of three hours in order to justify working at a cafĂ©. A4 isÂ a completely free workspace for creatives set in the heart of Dubaiâs gallery hub Alserkal Avenue. The coffee is plenty strong here, there are lots of seating options (from a giant spool of thread, to beanbag chairs, communal tables, and reading nooks), the wireless access is zippy, and there are often cool film screenings or exhibitions going on downstairs. I always bump into Â artists, gallerists, and designers here, which has led to some of my favorite collaborations.
A4 is also the perfect place to hold any kind of meeting that demands outside the box brainstormingâŠand if you start to feel too serious you can grab a stack of art books from the community library (my donation was a copy of âArielâ by poet Sylvia Plath) and climb up to the tree house built high off the ground.
Shakespeare and Co.
Mango lhassi and prissy English dĂ©cor make for a good place to sit and hand write an important letter or focus and get a project done. This cafĂ© is like the child of Jane Austen and Ibn Battuta, with lace and silver tea pots everywhere you look, in addition to backgammon, sweet melon shisha and addictive saj. I prefer the original location at Al Saqr Business Tower on Sheikh Zayed Road, which recently addedÂ a lovely shaded garden. My (now!) husband took me here at the end of our first date, so itâs sentimental.
XVA, Al Fahidi
XVA is a cafe, art gallery, and hotel tucked down an alley way in a series of traditional Emirati homes complete with wind towers in the Al Fahidi historic neighborhood right on the creek. I take the metro to the Al Fahidi stop and spend long, dreamy afternoons drinking watermelon juice in the shaded courtyard, wandering through the gallery spaces, and often nibbling on date muffins with formidable founder Mona Hauser.
Iraqi artist Halim Al Karim has been in residence at XVA for years and you can glimpse evidence of his work all around. Last month he wrapped the courtyard in shiny fruit and flower paper as part of an installation titled 'Chaos.' XVA is a wonderful place to sit, eat, and breathe deeply for the day amidst leafy trees, neighborhood artists, tourists, and poets.
All courtesy of kate spade new yorkÂ (thanks Mall of the Emirates store!)
(1) Lily Avenue Kiki clutch and Lawn Party Snail Ring
(2) Shore Thing Octopus Ring, Splash Out Melly clutch
(3) Shore Thing Octopus Ring, Splash Out Melly clutch,
iPad Air Hardcase Make a Splash Lenticular
(4) Lady Bugs Silicone iPhone 6 case, Little Ladybug Ladybug ring, Splash out Sunglasses Clutch
(5) Spring Blooms iPad Air Hard Case
(6) Little Ladybug Bug Necklace
(7) Cedar Street Stripe Pom Pom Scarf
(8) Beach Gem Cuff Bracelet
Image Credits: Danna Lorch