In the last leg of my trip to Dubai this year, serendipity led me to Alserkal Avenue, a neighbourhood of warehouses in Al Quozwhere I discovered a one-of-its-kind vinyl record store, a dozen art exhibitions, innovative cafes and workout spaces, a group of Indian-origin actors rehearsing for a play, and more. By Rashima Nagpal

Amid the industrial area of Al Quoz in Dubai, 500,000 square feet has taken the shape of an art hub better known as Alserkal Avenue. The vibe of this place is unlike anywhere else in the emirate. It has been designed by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture as a multi-disciplinary area called ‘Concrete’, and comprises 25 warehouses dubbed as art spaces. As I sampled a couple of them from the inside, a mix of intriguing spaces revealed themselves.

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Announcement | Concrete, commissioned by Alserkal, has been shortlisted for the 2019 Aga Khan Award for Architecture (@agakhanawardforarchitecture), marking the first time a project in Dubai has been shortlisted for this prestigious award. This is also the first time a project by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (@oma.eu), has been shortlisted. Concrete is the first building in the UAE to be completed by OMA, founded by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Rem Koolhaas. Commissioned by Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal (@abdelmonem_a) in 2015, Concrete was inaugurated in March 2017, and has hosted five museum-grade, non-profit exhibitions in collaboration with world-renowned institutions. The Award shortlist was announced today at a ceremony in Kazan, Russia. Recipients of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture will be announced in Fall 2019. Link in bio for more.

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Some came in the form of huge art galleries furnished with nothing but canvases; a few identified themselves as independent fashion pop-ups; one of them was smeared in paint and with unfinished paintings scattered all across the roomI found out that it hosts painting workshops for people of all ages; some have been designed as incredible cafes (such as this one) or co-working spaces; some theatres; and the one that had me at first sight was a vinyl record store.

Founded by music hobbyist Shadi Megallaa, The Flip Side at Alserkal Avenue has been tagged as UAE’s only independent record shop. It opened in 2017, and has ever since been attracting old-school music lovers with an aim to revive the charm of a disc. Megallaa’s collection ranges from Blues, Jazz, Rock, Funk, R&B, and Soul to Hip-Hop, Reggae, Electronic, Deep House, and quite a lot of Indie music. Apart from buying a vinyl, one can simply spend time sampling tracks at one of the listening stations here. Like I did. With just enough time to play one record, I intuitively picked up an R&B album by a band I hadn’t heard of before (Open Soul by Tomorrow’s People) and fell in love with.

Alserkal Avenue hosts multiple events at all times. From Social Saturdays (think meditation nights, board games, talks, food pop-ups) and running clubs to film screenings, plays, art festivals, and more, it is a liberating place to be at.

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Social Saturdays | Join us for an evening edition of Social Saturdays this Saturday (25 May) for a night of meditation, board games, talks, workshops, and more. . Here are some highlights: Majlis | Come hang out in A4 Space’s Majlis until 11PM, with board games from @boardgamespace who bring back our love for all games played face-to-face. . BLSSD | 8-11PM – Contemporary fashion and purpose driven label @___blssd___ is previewing their latest Resort 20 collection in @themojogallery (Warehouse 33) . Activation and Talk | 7-11PM – Discover ethically sourced, beautifully designed prayer rugs from @oneabovedesign activation in A4 Space, incorporating ‘Islamic’ art and translating it into contemporary design. Listen to founder Seher Mir (@Seher_mir) speak about the creative process in a talk at 8.30PM . Workshops | Sign your kids up for a monochrome painting workshop at @jpnfmuseum (Warehouse 45) at 11AM or join a bottle cutting workshop at KAVE (Warehouse 20) at 1PM. Register in the link in bio. . Pause | 9-10PM In light of the Holy month, join a meditation session in Warehouse 90 with Ferina Natasya from @houseofpause. Free and open to all, email [email protected] to register. . Explore our galleries’ exhibitions and enjoy Iftar and Suhoor experiences, film screenings at @cinemaakil , or grab a bite at @apetiteuae, @mirzamchocolate, @Nightjar.coffee, @wildandthemoon, @ProjectChaiwala @Sajandcouae @Techarc, Fill me Pho at @KAVEpeople and @Tamashee. Check out the full Social Saturdays programme in the link in bio.

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