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Photo by Emily Broad

Photo Essay: Abu Dhabi’s Thrift Bookstore

Across from the Royal Rose Hotel on Electra Street lies Abu Dhabi's only second hand bookstore.

May 4, 2019

Abu Dhabi’s thrift bookstore is situated in a small block of shops across the Royal Rose Hotel. Its humble storefront contrasts greatly with the grandeur of the hotel, but it adds street-level character that often feels hard to come by in Abu Dhabi. Thrift Distribution & Books is Abu Dhabi’s only used, independent book store. Purchasing books in Abu Dhabi is usually limited to the large chain stores in places like Al Wahda or Yas Mall.
The bookstore was located on Hamdan Street for six years, but moved to Electra Street, across from the Royal Rose, in the last three years. People come in and out of the shop with surprising frequency to try to sell their unwanted books or just stop in for a quick purchase. The store itself is unexpectedly loud as its owner shouts over the phone in Hindi to the shop’s various inquirers.
The store offers an interesting selection of books from translated Qurans to early Christian Bibles, something especially significant during the UAE’s Year of Tolerance. You will also find anthologies of magazines on the Middle East and classic children’s series such as Anamorphs and Harry Potter crowding the shelves. For college students on a budget, books for standardized test preparation and used textbooks are sold at a highly reduced price. Most things in the shop sell for up to around 30 AED.
The store itself is quite small, with sliding shelves stacked on each other to accommodate the selection, but being the only used bookstore in the city makes it worth a few visits during your time at NYUAD. For those who miss used bookstores from their home countries, Thrift Distribution & Books is a nice taste of those sorely missed shops.
Emily Broad is Photography Editor. Email her at
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