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Cairo's First Café-Workspace Hybrid Just Opened

No more working at the local café; the Middle East's first network for mobile workers just opened in Egypt - and the coffee is free.

Think about this: the amount of money you'd normally spend ordering endless cups of coffee at a cafe just in exchange for a desk, wifi, or a cosy place to have a meeting somewhere in Zamalek. Over the course of a year it probably adds up to a higher price than you'd pay for office rent. Or at least close to it. Mixing the concept of coffee shop with the ever-increasing co-working spaces, Urban Stations was born out of that thought. The global office space network, conceived in Argentina but currently running across five countries, allows you to rent a meeting room, an auditorium, or an office desk – even if it is for just a couple of hours. The extra perk? Coffee and finger food are free.

“The main difference with other co-working spaces is that we are on the ground; eventually, we will be there at every corner. This is the first working space that exists in the retail form,” says Co-Founder Khaled Abdel Razek.

The workspace is located in Mohandiseen, and members can also use them when visiting other branches in Colombia or Mexico, for example. 

Hailing from Buenos Aires´ hipster Palermo Soho neighbourhood, the workspace now operates across several branches in Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Chile – and now, Egypt.  “Think of this as the equivalent of a hotel business centre; if you are on the go and have a meeting, you can come in and stay there for the day; or if you need to concentrate in between meetings,” says Abdel Razek, who opened the space together with his partners Mohamed and Ahmed Abdallah – whose corporate background includes family business Olympic Electric - Hatem El Tabakh, Ahmed Sallam, and Hany Shahata.

The entrepreneurs, who were former schoolmates at the American University in Cairo (AUC), decided to join forces in 2010, inspired by the rise of entrepreneurs in the Arab world and beyond. “We’ve had shared experiences in the last 15 years and wanted to start a business together,” says the 37-year-old entrepreneur. “In 2010, we felt there was a need for co-working spaces in the market; entrepreneurs were highly emerging and a lot of people were working in cafés. I, myself, was always on the go, so I often needed a space to go between meetings. But the revolution came and we put it on hold,” he recalls.

 The first Urban Station was conceived in Argentina's bustling capital, Buenos Aires.

This year, however, the entrepreneurs decided to take a shot and began doing research before opening the space. “We began looking online and came across urban station in Argentina, so we contacted them. We had our own brand, but when we came across them, we loved their idea and they have the know-how. So we started asking them more and more questions and they offered us a franchise,” he explains.

Located in Mohandiseen’s Wadi El Nil Street, the space boasts of six rooms plus open spaces such as their auditorium, which can host up to 40 people. Customers can either pay by the hour, per month, or they can even rent the whole space for an event. Members can buy pre-paid hours and use them across different branches, whether it is in Egypt or globally – in Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, or Chile. Some of their clients include P&G, Out of Z Box, and Craves. “We have agreements with TBS and Craves, which just opened for catering at the space. We've also worked with companies giving training sessions at our space; our philosophy is that we are very flexible,” says Abdel Razek.  

How much is a desk? From 25 to 45 EGP, as the fee reduces according to the amount of hours. That’s less than a mocha. AUC students and graduates get 10 percent discounts, and there is an unlimited supply of coffee, tea, and finger food. Say no more.

For more information, visit their Facebook page.