The Bureau: A Dubai co-working space for women, by women

Sisters Nikita and Rhea Patel are creating a community that goes well beyond the nine-to-five

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How we work — and how we want to work — is changing. The pandemic accelerated a global push for flexibility, a requirement that has now become non-negotiable for many.

As a result, more people than ever before are working outside of traditional office environments, whether it be from home, cafes or flexible spaces.

The Bureau is Dubai’s newest co-working hub, located within the busy Gold and Diamond Park area. Created by women, and with women in mind, the 930-square-metre space is not only aesthetically stunning, but also functional on every level.

There are communal desks, private offices, podcast booths and sound-proofed phone booths. There’s also an event space and boardroom. And, when guests are not at their desks, there’s a gym, a Jones the Grocer, vanity rooms and even a pumping room with a fridge where new mothers can store milk during the working day.

The Bureau has been created by sisters Nikita and Rhea Patel, who were born and raised in Dubai. Although they both moved to the US for university and initially pursued very different career paths, those roads eventually led them both home to Dubai.

“We both had very different journeys to inception,” Rhea says. “Mine was definitely rooted in my love for community building and my need for community. I transitioned from the corporate world to business school to entrepreneurship, which can sometimes be a bit of a lonely journey.”

Nikita, meanwhile, took inspiration from a space she visited in Boston when living in the city in 2018. “My friend invited me to work from a female-focused co-working space and I hadn't heard about the concept at the time,” she says. “I remember walking in and just feeling like I belonged. The space was stunning. It was motivating and inspiring to see so many female-run businesses, entrepreneurs and freelancers all in one space.

“I remember calling my parents and saying: ‘I think this would do really well in Dubai’. Keep in mind this is pre-pandemic,” she adds. “Five years later, we’re finally here.”

While The Bureau has been designed with women in mind, it’s open to everyone, and its ambitions to build a community extended well beyond the working day. The Bureau has partnered with several businesses across the city, and founding members of those businesses will be hosting regular talks and events, as well as mentorship programmes.

“We have two main themes for our events this year,” Rhea says. “And that’s where our female focus really comes in.

“One part is financial empowerment and financial independence for women. We want to open up the conversation around taboo topics that we know people want to talk about, whether it be things like pre-nuptial agreements and pre and post-marriage finance, to things like divorce — things people go through and want to talk about, but there's no real forum to do so.”

There will also be a programme of talks and events to promote mental and physical well-being, which is at the core of what The Bureau is about. “We've partnered with Sophie Smith and Lighthouse Arabia on this aspect,” Rhea says. “And our gym, Nao, is a new venture from the founders of boutique studio Physique 57.”

While plans for The Bureau were in place long before the pandemic, the timing feels serendipitous.

“People are coming here to live and work in record numbers from all over the world,” Nikita says. “And so the first question is: ‘Where can I work?’ We've been getting a lot of inquiries from digital nomads and global entrepreneurs — it's been wonderful.”

The Bureau also prides itself on being accessible — whether you’re a student just starting out in your career or a chief executive. The membership programme is flexible, with day rates starting at Dh120 for a day pass, Dh950 for monthly membership and Dh3,000 for private office rental. There’s also a social membership, starting at Dh350 per month, for those who would like to join regular community events.

“Shared experience is really at the centre of what we want The Bureau to be,” Rhea says. “We want people from all stages of their life to be able to come here and find a community where they can work and feel inspired.”

The Bureau is open from 8am-7pm (closed on Sundays) at Building 6, Gold and Diamond Park. More information and membership plans are available at thebureaubc.com

Updated: January 13, 2023, 5:57 AM