From shiny Dubai, to Tunis, Cairo and Beirut, these 10 stunning spaces are pushing the boundaries of the MENA startup culture with ingenious perks - be it free yoga classes or digital programmes for geeks.
As the entrepreneurial ecosystem flourishes in the Arab world, the need for comfortable, innovation-friendly and low-cost workspaces increases. Co-working spaces were initially designed to fill this gap, help boost productivity and foster creativity for entrepreneurs, freelancers and working nomads.
However, some co-working stations have crafted unimaginable perks, rising their profile to become stakeholders in their own right. Impelled to assist startups to become pioneers, these 10 stations offer a variety of developmental activities - be it workshops, trainings, bootcamps - others provide funding, while others have entertainment corners to create a fully-fledged experience. From cozy hubs in downtown Cairo, to TEDx salons in Casablanca, to Google-partnered tech centres in Dubai, we round up 10 co-working spaces not to miss.
1. Antwork - Beirut, Lebanon
Aside from being a co-working space that offers a professional environment to work, learn and connect, Antwork has a rooftop working area, a maker lab, a garden space and just introduced a bike-sharing station. Antwork's members can now use their bikes to commute back and forth to work; but that's not all: to keep their members relaxed, they provide activities once a week such as open level yoga, storytelling, inspirational breakfasts and coaching programmes such as “Master your life”. Physical space aside, their open platform API (Application Programming Interface) allows developers, designers and ideators to create hacks, tools and applications that are available online and on-site to the entire Antwork Community.
2. Urban Station – Cairo, Egypt
With offices in five countries all over the globe, Urban Station is the first global network for mobile workers offering more than just office space. Building a prominent community of entrepreneurs by partnering with top-notch startups, hosting talks, workshops and bootcamps catered to the needs of their clients and even holding iftars during Ramadan. Usually, a desk would range from 30 to 50 EGP, depending on the amount of hours; that's less than a Starbuck's frappuccino - and you get free coffee! They have even partnered with rising mobility star Swvl to offer their members a discounted mode of transportation.
3. A4 Space - Dubai, UAE
Located in Alserkal Avenue, A4 Space is a 6,000 square feet co-working space that inspires and mentors the new creative generation of its locals. Equipped with a screening room, a community library, pop-up shops, an Appetite Cafe, and project space for exhibitions and photoshoots, this place revolutionizes the work experience. Embracing the power and beauty of art, their soon-to-be-launched concept store and collection of permanent texts is just around the corner, and it's by the community, for the community.
4. Nadi Al Quoz - Dubai, UAE
In one of the city's most cosmopolitan areas lays a gorgeously calm co-working space that was once a simple warehouse. Hosting a 14-week pop-up project and series of programmes each year, Nadi Al Quoz is open daily to work, meet new people and bounce off fresh new ideas. From their unwinding hammocks, to comfy floor chairs and beanbags to an actual bed for those who feel drowsy, this place will leave you feeling euphoric. Inspired by a Zen garden, the co-working space frequently holds workshops and talks, free yoga sessions, Japanese flower arranging, drawing classes, and provide a healthy food and drink stand.
5. AstroLabs - Dubai, UAE
The region’s only Google-partnered tech centre is a 6,500 square feet, 24/7 workspace with high-speed internet. AstroLabs is paradise for tech-geeks, with amenities such as multiple screen-setups for serious programming and a device lab co-designed with Google for mobile app development. Alongside, Astrolabs Academy is a series of programmes in digital disciplines including analytics, big data, Adwords, UX/UI design, digital marketing and programming. If you are a startup and need funding, they will even connect you to investors.
6. MAKE Business Hub - Dubai, UAE
MAKE is thought to be the home of Dubai’s freelancers, startup entrepreneurs and on-the-go workers. Having opened the first co-working cafe in UAE, MAKE Art cafe is an extension that propels creative freelancers who are looking for an inspiring place to work. Always updating its calendar of events, they promote and host events on entrepreneurship, technology and design, such as MAKE Ignition and the Startup Grind series. MAKE also offers pitching booths for entrepreneurs, and if you need to brainstorm, a chalkboard will be available for you.
7. Impact Hub - Dubai, UAE
One of the largest communities of entrepreneurs, techies and creatives, this startup hotspot located in Dubai’s Downtown district not only has a vibrant co-working space and innovation labs, but also offers programmes to support the startup ecosystem. Social startups and women-led businesses, for example, count with a free day pass to explore the hub and network, plus an invitation to join the “Trybes.” The space also offers the possibility of joining as a Hubster, which means being assigned a trained host for support, who introduce entrepreneurs to the right people and accelerate their ideas.They also have an SME Hub passport, developed in cooperation with Dubai SME, an agency of the Department of Economic Development in Dubai, that gives users access to Impact Hub’s global network, workspace and events across 25 cities worldwide.
8. NewWork Lab - Casablanca, Morocco
This co-working space divides its area through different themes; whether its library-themed, sports-oriented, a travel atmosphere or a greenery aura, this workspace caters for the personal satisfaction of each member. The place hosts events and talks on a regular basis, as well as TEDXSalons, and labs to foster member creativity. They have impacted over 5,000 individuals and fostered 150 entrepreneurs through developing and implementing support programs to accelerate the creation of companies and jobs. Morocco's coolest co-working station also strengthen the skills and leadership of its young citizens.
9. Oasis500 - Amman, Jordan
With a massive slide connecting the top and ground floors, Oasis500 is offering one of the most enthralling workspaces. You can brainstorm alone on a desk, in a small meeting room with some coworkers or even hold important meetings in their conference room. The hub is originally one of the region's very first tech accelerators, offering trainings, funding, and a network of 450 angel investors. Having trained over 2200 entrepreneurs and being home to more than 100 startups, Oasis500 is the leading tech hub in Jordan.
10. Cogite - Tunis, Tunisia
Having opened in 2013 as the country’s first co-working space, Cogite was ranked in Forbes’ Top 10 co-working spaces worldwide. Cogite not only hosts more than 140 coworkers daily and 90 events every year, but it also an oasis for like-minded people to create, innovate and learn. Startups come from a diversity of sectors, from technology and business, to social innovation and civil society. Partnering with prominent organisations like Hivos, Drosos, Facebook, Microsoft and Mercycorps, Cogite is creating more of an entrepreneurial movement rather than a physical place for working. If you are not working, you can still enjoy several of their contemplating events, such as yoga sessions every Thursday and mindfulness sessions once a week.
Main Photo: AstroLabs, Dubai.
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