With the UAE being one of the biggest entrepreneurial hubs around the world, many are turning towards cities such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi for the unrivaled business environment they cater not just for entrepreneurs, but for also startups, freelancers and even digital nomads.
Among the many perks that these cities offer, there’s the alternative of turning to coworking spaces. Although it has been around for a while, the idea of coworking is relatively new and has only begun to gain popularity in the startup and SME scene between 2014 and 2018.Between these years, the number of coworking spaces has increased by 205% and the total market was valued at around $26 billion.
Over the past years, the UAE has seen an explosion of the number of coworking spaces or shared offices across the urban landscape. Before we jump to some of the best coworking spaces in the UAE, let’s first discuss how and why coworking spaces are the perfect alternative to help startups and SMEs meet their needs.
4 Benefits of Working From a Coworking Space
With the emergence of the freelancing culture and the gig economy model, there is a growing necessity for flexibility in the workplace. Although renting conventional office space has been a safe choice practically and financially speaking for businesses, the situation for startups and SMEs has been quite different in the region as well as abroad.
Here are some of the potential benefits every entrepreneur, freelancer or digital nomad considers when opting for working from a coworking space:
1. Cost saving
Renting a typical office space in AbuDhabi for instance usually ranges between Dhs 20,000 - Dhs 70,000 per year. This high overhead cost of renting and maintaining an office space is a killer for entrepreneurial endeavors and SMEs. This is why more businesses are looking to flexible office spaces to base their operations.
Shared spaces eliminate the need for longterm leases which may be expensive and unnecessary, especially if you need the space for a small amount of time. Payments can be made monthly or even daily, thus removing any terms of commitment that you may not need at the launch phase of your startup or business.
Coworking spaces also allow for scaling, meaning you only pay for the space and services you use. This is an effective method to save down on costs, as it allows you to concentrate your fund or capital into maximizing your operations or your core business activity.
Additionally, the offices have facilities like internet connectivity, bathroom and kitchen services and reception, which may be expensive to acquire when starting a new venture. Employees can benefit from free refreshments that are provided. These reduce the overall cost of running your business.
In a conventional office, you would only interact with your employees. However, in a shared space, you would get to interact with different companies, see how they carry out their operations and form business relationships.
Some coworking spaces also have networking fairs and workshops which encourage sharing of ideas and promote on-site mentorship.
3. Increased productivity
Your employees will be motivated to work harder by seeing how other employees work. Working with like minded people will increase the overall output of your business.
The office amenities provided by a typical coworking space usually help ensure a seamless workflow with fewer distractions.
4. Stimulate the growth of new businesses
Coworking spaces have a wealth of mentors who can help your new business grow. They offer exposure to different business cultures that can be helpful when adopted. You will also get to meet different people who might end up becoming your clients.
Coworking Spaces in The UAE
So many entrepreneurs in the UAE are opting for their newly launched startups to become active industry-leaders within today’s gig economy. As a result, there is a noticeable and continuous shift towards coworking spaces in the UAE.
With the surge of new businesses in the gig economy, real estate companies have seen this as an opportunity to start investing in the development of coworking office spaces.
The following are the more popular coworking spaces in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi:
1. Astrolabs, Dubai
Location: This is the first and largest coworking facility in the country. It is conveniently located in new Dubai across from the Dubai Marina, in the heart of the JLT district. It has two office spaces-Lakeside and Parkside. Its proximity to other large commercial establishments and restaurants is an added advantage.
Cost average: They have different kinds of membership packages to suit your business - depending on whether you are a licensed member (Dhs 2,500/month), a community member (Dhs 1,500/month) or a moonlighter (Dhs 750 /month).
Memberships can be contracted annually or flexible (month-to-month).
Additional perks: Apart from being fully equipped with state of the art office amenities, Astrolabs also helps you set up your business (depending on the package chosen). They have partnered with DMCC to fast track the licensing of new companies at a subsidized rate. They also offer on-site mentorship and account managers to help you establish your company.
Their policies also make it easy for non-residents to set up their companies.
Additional perks include access on nights and weekends, access to internet at high speed, meeting rooms and printing.
Astrolabs is also in partnership with IBM and Google, which is useful for businesses involved in tech. They also have an in-house training program and offer workshops and short courses.
Location: Nest Dubai is located in Barsha Heights, offering a modern and flexible office space for rent to businesses and freelancers alike.
Cost average: They offer membership packages for as low as Dhs 70 per day for one time passers.
For individuals, they offer weekly packages starting from Dhs 899/month up and monthly packages starting from Dhs 1,499/month up until Dhs 2,999/month.
For groups, they offer monthly packages starting from Dhs 2,650 /month up until Dhs 6,500/month depending on the number of members.
Additional perks: Members get free access to amenities such as meeting rooms, private pods, printing scanning and parking. And because NEST boasts of being one of the first coworking spaces in the world to be fully integrated into a major hotel, members can get access to a gym, spa, pool as well as reduced costs of rooms.
Location: Located in Koa Canvas, Wadi Al Safa, Nasab is a coworking space that is carefully planned over a 3-floors of open-air loft house. It brings together a community of entrepreneurs in a shared space setting.
Cost average: Nasab offers monthly private office suites for startups and businesses that can take from 2 to 12 individuals with prices starting from Dhs 2,000 per person/month.
Nasab also offers a shared workspace for smaller businesses with prices starting from Dhs 1,500 per person/month.
Additional perks: Monthly packages give members access to a number of office amenities including meeting rooms, printers, scanners and pantry items.
Monthly packages include access to high speed internet and access to social and wellness facilities offered by the complex.
Location: Located in the sustainable eco-development Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, Krypto labs is not only a coworking facility, it is also a tech incubation center. Krypto Labs is an eco-friendly space, as the offices are built out of shipping containers but with superior interior design.
Cost average: Packages start at Dhs 400/month up until Dhs 750/month for individuals seeking desks only. To rent a private office, this could take up to Dhs 4500/month.
There are also enterprises packages upon request.
Additional perks: Krypto Labs provides registration support for businesses (Masdar Free Zone licensing).
They offer services such as 3D printing, audio recording and VR studios time and also have the world’s most advanced GPU supercomputer, the Nvidia V100.
Krypto Labs also offers custom business acceleration programs, corporate innovation and they provide funding for start-ups. They also rent out conference room spaces to companies for workshops and seminars at affordable rates.
They have also partnered with SiliconValley-based 500 Startups, one of the world’s largest and most impactful seed investors.
Location: WeWork is located in the region’s most innovative Hub71, inside Al Khatem Tower, ADGM Square, Al Maryah Island.Choosing WeWork exposes members to an office space that brings together industry-leaders, innovators and established startups under one roof.
Cost average: There is a possibility to rent private offices for teams of all sizes, starting from Dhs 7,050/month. Individuals can also rent dedicated desks, shared in one office, starting from Dhs 1,100/month.
Additional perks: WeWork offers access to amenities such as event spaces with lounges and projectors. The complex is secure, with continuous CCTV surveillance and secure keycard access.
There is also ensured access to on-site staff to help you run your office smoothly, cleaning services, high-speed internet, phone booths and around the clock supplies such as printers.
Coworking spaces are the future of offices pace for startups and SMEs in the MENA region but also abroad. Not only are they affordable compared to conventional offices, but they are also flexible and offer the best of both worlds when it comes to maximizing productivity and creativity while still cutting down on costs.
If you’re a startup and you’re looking for a cozy place to help you maximize your focus and costs on launching and testing your product, then coworking is the right choice!