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Described as "a collective space dedicated to welcome, inspire and influence the young generation of Dubai by providing them with a voice to express themselves", A4 Space at Al Serkal avenue offers something almost unheard of in the UAE: a place where one can converse, contemplate and create without actually having to spend a dirham.
The community-centred Space comes complete with a small but cozy cinema screening room, a slightly hipster but genuine organic coffee spot called Appetite Cafe and a concept store featuring ethical fashion and lifestyle products called STORies.
Upon entering A4 Space, one is hit by a wall of quotes. Renowned artists, designers and media figures speak out to the visitor on ideas of creativity in painted words. It takes the phrase "writing on the wall" and delivers new meaning to it. The gentle white paint beneath these words blends nicely with the wooden shelves and tables in the converted warehouse.
A4 Space's #LeaveYourNote campaign invites visitors to donate a book on design or culture, leaving a post-it inside explaining why the donated work matters to them. The campaign requests each donor to donate just one book, which is unusual for a donation invite.
While the shelves are sparsely decorated with works of contemporary design and classical literature, there remains much room for more.
The very comfortable reading holes carved out on the top level in the space's loft-like layout make an ideal spot for one to sit and fall into a book for several uninterrupted hours.
What you won't find on show in the screening room is Transformers 4 or any other Michael Bay film. Foreign and independent titles appeal more to the clientele here. Les Vacances ck Monsieur Hulot, a 1953 classic by famed French director Jacques Tati, was shown recently with English subtitles. Visitors enjoyed free entry and popcorn. In Search of Oil and Sand, a documentary centred around the Egyptian royal family and its overthrow in a 1953 coup was also screened.
In keeping with the art-centric Al Serkal venue, the space recently played host to the week-long MOBIPIXUAE exhibition, which saw the finest smartphone photography in the region on display.
What really makes A4 Space stand out amid a world of shopping malls and gourmet coffee dotting more and more of Dubai is the fact that this is a real, community-centred venue that offers free Wi-Fi and independent film screenings. This is something to be treasured in the UAE, especially for those who do not fancy commercialised venues and public spaces.
Source: Riaz Naqvi, Subeditor, Property Weekly