While the service at this café is dithering at best, the collection of well-thumbed books stacked and squashed into every available crevice on a corner shelf go some way to making up for it. Lose yourself in a pre-loved spy thriller or chick lit novel and you’ll hardly notice the staff getting your order wrong. There are also a few board games available to play, including Scrabble, and large sofas that are great for sinking into at the end of a long weekend.
Open daily from sunset until 11pm during Ramadan. Greens Village, The Greens, www.facebook.com/berts.dubai (04 361 9292).
Book N Bean
Tucked away inside Dubai Festival City’s Ace Hardware, this café and bookstore is more than just a place to chill out while your other half peruses the wall mounts. Selling a huge range of second-hand books, find a title you like, buy it, read it by the pool, then bring it back and get a 50 percent refund. Another incentive to keep coming back is the café’s loyalty scheme – collect stamps for every cup of coffee you buy and get your tenth free. Great for hardware and caffeine enthusiasts alike.
Open daily 9am-midnight, food served from 7.30pm during Ramadan. Ace Hardware, Dubai Festival City (04 232 6992).
Dainty Japanese salads, a large selection of teas and coffees, incredible (no really, incredible) views across the Dubai Fountains – this tiny cafe has all the makings of a Dubai favourite. What makes it really special, however, is the feeling that you are sipping in one of the city’s best secrets. Kino Cafe is actually hidden away inside the enormous and wonderful Kinokuniya book store in Dubai Mall. This theme park for book lovers is the type of place we could spend an entire day so the quality cafe makes for a perfect lit stop. Thumb through your purchases while trying out a green tea ice cream and simple sushi dishes.
Open daily sunset until late during Ramadan. Book World by Kinokuniya, The Dubai Mall, www.facebook.com/KinokuniyaDubai (04 434 0111).
Spend any time at all in this Uptown Mirdif cafe and it feels like you are part of a cultural revolution. Styled like an intellectual’s study, the cafe is only reached after first passing through a book store. Dominated by Arabic texts, although there are some English crowd-pleasers as well, there are plenty of titles to look through. Depending on your mood there are philosophical tomes and children’s comic books and the high-backed designer armchairs and sophisticated decor give you an air of thoughtfulness whatever you read. Visit on a night when there is a book signing by a local author, film screening or poetic debate and you get the strongest sense of cafe culture in Dubai.
Open daily sunset until late. Uptown Mirdif Mall, Mirdif, www.twitter.com/kuttabcafe (no number).
The Magazine Shop
Aptly located in Dubai Media City, The Magazine Shop is a trendy little hub that’s popular with the media execs in the area. If you like to flick through beautifully designed special interest fashion, lifestyle, and travel mags while you sip ethical coffee, then this is your spot. Décor is very minimal and industrial making it seem a bit cold but the shop is actually a community hub for creative and literary lovers, and hosts regular book clubs and film screenings.
Daily 9am-3pm. Loft #2, Al Madaar Street, Dubai Media City (04 457 4283).
Delicious food isn’t the only thing this bustling Media City café serves up. Dining alone? Pick up one of numerous novels and biographies lining the shelves, flick through one of dozens of magazines or play a game of solitaire. Lunching with a friend? There’s also chess.
Open daily 8am-5pm during Ramadan, iftar available for large group bookings. CNN Building, Dubai Media City (04 362 4330).