Alexander McNabb

Dubai’s Stunning, Funky New Art Space: The Archive

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If anyone knows how to create funky art/work spaces, it’s the Shabib Brothers, the brilliant eccentrics behind The Shelter, Brown Book and The Pavilion among other things. The latest Bin Shabib creation is The Archive and it’s a stunner.

I met with librarian Sarah Malki last week – we’re planning a series of ‘How to’ workshops around writing and publishing books. I really didn’t know what to expect, beyond ‘we’re in Safa Park, just go to Gate Five and you can’t miss us’. Given that ‘you can’t miss us’ is Abu Dhabi code for ‘you’ll die trying to find us’, I had reservations.

Sure enough, you walk in through Gate 5 (it’s the one facing the Sheikh Zayed Road), paying your Dhs3 entrance fee on the way in. And The Archive is straight ahead – a short walk through the green grass and palm trees of the park, a little oasis of tranquillity, birdsong and the sound of children playing.

The Archive is a single story building, an older concrete construction that has been artfully encased in glass and then lined with bookshelves – its primary purpose as a space is to house a collection of books on architecture, art, typography and design with a focus on the Middle East. It’s also a workspace and meeting place with a café serving excellent contemporary food and drinks. The tables outside could hardly be a more delightful place to meet up for a chat or just sit back for a read in the dappled winter sunlight.

Sarah’s building a wide-ranging program of events that’s already getting pretty manic and no wonder – The Archive is a little treasure and the perfect place to hold smaller scale events with space, at this time of year at least, to get up to bigger scale stuff outdoors.

I’ll post more on the workshops when we confirm dates and stuff. In the meantime, drop in there for a coffee – you’ll be glad you did.

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