Dubai Culture is collaborating with coworking service Letswork in what’s being described as a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership in the region to provide flexible workspaces for creative folk. The nature of the deal and the benefits to users remain unclear, however.
There’s no doubting the need. Digital nomads, early-stage startups and people with a great idea but few resources don’t need and can’t afford full-scale offices, and that was the genesis of Letswork – signing up hotels, coffee shops and other spaces that could feasibly provide temporary workspaces, and signing up members who could use such facilities on a short-term basis. The café gets more trade, especially at quiet times during the day; in return they agree to discount F&B for Letswork members by 10-20 percent.
Depending on the venue, memberships also include extras like free parking, unlimited tea, coffee, and water, and unrestricted wifi, often with the guarantee of proximity to a power socket. While you could sort out something similar for yourself, Letswork makes it easy, flexible and probably cheaper. The pic at the top shows one of Letswork’s venues, Ivy’s Secret Garden in Al Quoz 4.
From there the concept has expanded into short-term rental of private offices and meeting rooms; access to specialised facilities like podcast studios and dance studios has been added recently. Again, Letswork (and its members’ app) is the middleman; you won’t get these facilities included in your membership fee, but you will be paying only for the time you actually need and use – “prices are set by the venues, no hidden charges” say Letswork.
Letswork membership is easy to understand – there are daily packages starting at AED 39, weekly deals at AED 209, and monthly rates at AED 499. For anything more than the coffee shop options you’ll also pay for rental of the space. It all works off the app (or the website) where you can search for a suitable workspace and then book a slot there.
So what’s the deal with Dubai Culture? Apparently there’s “a cooperation and partnership agreement” that aims to “make the process of searching for and booking workplaces easier for Dubai’s creative community”.
And Hala Badri, DG of Dubai Culture, said that the deal would contribute to Dubai being an ideal destination for the creative community and the preferred destination to live and work, especially for those looking to launch their creative project: “We are cooperating with Letswork to provide an integrated system that will help talents establish their creative work as well as provide them with the best opportunities to benefit from a comprehensive set of services … We seek to support creative talents and provide them with the necessary tools to be successful entrepreneurs”.
Omar Al Mheiri, co-founder of Letswork, noted that “Dubai is rich with spaces that enable and foster creativity; our partnership with the Authority will help the creative community to explore these spaces.” He indicated that Letswork has on its books event spaces, art galleries and exhibition spaces, recording studios, and even libraries.
So there’s an obvious value for the creative community in the Letswork offer. What’s less clear is why Dubai Culture needs to be involved at all – it’s easy enough to sign up for Letswork already. Will creative folk associated with or endorsed by Dubai Culture get additional discounts, or privileged access, or some other special benefits? What exactly is the “integrated system” that Hala Badri is talking about?
We did ask, but at press time there had been no response from either Letswork or Dubai Culture. When there’s a bit more clarity on the deal we’ll report again.