Two Places

I wish we have places like these in Riyadh:

  • ta2_marbouta_2T-Marbouta is a cafe in Beirut that I visited when I was in Lebanon last year. Located in Pavilion St. of Hamra, this place offers something different than what you can usually find in other cafes in the city. With its little library and weekly events and art performances, it has become a favorite a spot for students and young activists. There is this place in Khobar called Otacuschez, which offers a relatively similar experience, but unfortunately there is nothing like that in Riyadh.

  • citizen_spaceCitizen Space, a coworking space in San Francisco. What is a coworking space? It is basically a cafe-like community/collaboration space for developers, writers and independents. There are many places like these in cities around the world now, and I think it would be great if creative people in Riyadh can have such thing. I mean, let’s face it: this is not exactly a friendly city for writers and artists; a coworking space should be perfect for many of us who seek a healthy, inspiring environment to work and create here.

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16 thoughts on “Two Places

  1. That Outakuschez place sounds great! I’m totally going to have to visit it out now because not having a library to check books out of is really a pain! It looks like there are several in the Khobar area; it’s a shame there are none in Riyadh. Maybe they will expand there eventually.

  2. healthy inspiring environment… sounds tempting !

    something we all are looking for… a place that would join “intellects” ..

    but i just have a question… lets be realistic… in a conservative society like “here” … how would you put this idea on action… i’d love to be in a coffee shop that would have a writer as an example once every month… and people would actually talk “literature” not …………… whatever ! got my point ? are our cultures developed mentally enough to accept those kind of places?

  3. Let’s face it, even if they did open here I doubt people would go there.

    Hell, I wouldn’t go to these places eithier, sounds boring. :(

  4. T-Marbouta sounds fun, but I am not too sure about Citizen Space.

    Whatever it may be, I don’t see why anything like them would NOT open in Saudi. No matter how “conservative” the society is. Its just the concept that is different. People are not used it here in the Kingdom.

    Lets just wait and see if anyone passes by your post and actually starts one. Afterall, they are loads and loads of coffee and hubbly-bubbly places all around the city, so why not turn them into something productive?

  5. Such places will exist if there is a demand for it !

    In jeddah, Andalusia by Ahmad alshugeri has a combination of both cafes. There is Library , book reading, events, speaker, debates, and so much more. Its is truly an inspiring environment.

    I am sure by time such ideas will come through

  6. Even if they opened such places, barbarians will come and ruin the atmosphere.

    At first, we aim to improve the mentality, then we can start doing other things, and the crappy fact is that the mentality will never improve here, hence, your wish will never be granted while we’re still alive.

  7. @Taki:
    But how can you improve the mentality without first offering a solution? You can’t just close your eyes and hope real hard for a whole community to change. No, you have to build establishments such as these. Let the wisdom accumulated in these places to slowly seep into the society surrounding it. Yes, you’ll have problems at first with the unwashed masses. But what great endeavor doesn’t have challenges?

  8. Liked the idea, in Riyadh there are some private homes that invite leaders to discuss about comunity and economic issues. It is not so open as it should be, they might feel guilty for being this much different.

    the cafe in al Khobar Outakuschez is in many places -dhahran mall, farm in Azizieah, and the best of them, in Al qusaiby. the one in al Aziziea is small and has only magazines but the guy there is cool.

  9. Yeah I went there. Was empty except for me, though that’s to be expected since I came at an awkard time.

    Nice to see they had a copy of “Discovery! The Quest for Arabian Oil.” thought their history shelf was sadly lacking.

  10. I love the notion of these.

    Like others, though, I am pessimistic as to their acceptance by the ulemaa.

    I personally would love “a cafe-like community/collaboration space for developers, writers and independents. ”

    However, such a place that truly permitted intellectual and social freedom is unthinkable.

    First, it would have to be gender-segregated, removing 50% of the population.

    Then, it would be required to limit and forbid any sense of community for writers on any “dangerous” themes, resulting in self-censorship.

    As such, it would be a kind of ersatz or diluted version of the authentic Citizen Space. It might have all the same furniture and decor, but the range of books and conversation would be far more limited, and, of course, 50% of the population would be banned or limited from attending.

    I actually believe that what you are doing with this webpage is more useful, in that it is open to all, and the range of potential discussion topics is greater.

    Congratulations Ahmed on a wonderful site.

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