Sharjah’s new lagoon-side bookstore weaves literary references into its interior design

Interior design at Al Rawi, Sharjah
Located at Sharjah’s popular Al Majaz Waterfront, Al Rawi is Pallavi Dean Interiors’ third project in Sharjah. The concept bookstore is designed for the booklovers of Sharjah.
(Image credit: press)

Sharjah's creative community has a new destination for work and play – Al Rawi, a restaurant and bookstore designed by Pallavi Dean Interiors. The uplifting, informal spot is pitched at professionals, booklovers and designers – and their children, who have space to play and be inspired too.

Tetra, the private management company that commissioned Al Rawi, wanted the design to go above and beyond what you might expect from a bookstore. The brief envisioned a multitasking space that could reflect Sharjah’s literary heritage – celebrated at the Sharjah International Book Fair which began in 1982 – and become a contemporary hub for the Emirate’s creative community, with a cafe, restaurant, events space and creative zone for children.

Al Rawi design details in Sharjah

Custom-made tables inspired by books and words

(Image credit: Pallavi Dean)

Inspired by the name ‘Al Rawi' which means ‘the one who tells stories', Pallavi Dean designed an interior inspired by books and our relationship with them: ‘The design is full of literary inspiration, but in a subtle and abstract way – the woven texture of the handrails and space dividers, for example, is based on the stitching that binds books. It’s those kind of playful literary references that we think gives Al Rawi its personality and character.'

Instead of walls, flexible book shelving creates a division for the space which can be moved and adpated to suit different types of activity. There's a colourful backdrop for every type of activity, whether you're reading a book, checking emails, meeting creative clients for lunch or hosting a launch or evening talk. Retail pods on castors display books, stationery and book-related merchandise and custom sculptures and light mobiles inspired by books and words hang above. The stitch detail from a bound book spine is threaded through the whole design in a tactile rubber material – on a large scale as space dividers, or intimately across the handrail.

Terrace with far-reaching views at Al Rawi, Sharjah

The terrace with far-reaching views over the Al Majaz waterfront

(Image credit: press)

Overlooking the Khalid Lagoon, the Al Majaz fountain, Noor island and the corniche, Al Rawi has a glazed facade and an open terrace for guests. The ‘grab and go' bar is visible to pedestrians walking down the Al Majaz Waterfront promenade so people can swing by for a morning coffee or breakfast. The bar is also a retail space, ready for visitors to feed their brains with a book or a magazine.

Based in the Dubai Design District, Pallavi Dean Interiors was founded by Dean in 2013. Al Rawi is the team's third project in Sharjah, following the Shababeek Lebanese restaurant and Sheera Entreprneurship Center at the American University of Sharjah.

Book inspired interior design at Al Rawi, Sharjah

(Image credit: press)

Concept book storage at Al Rawi

(Image credit: press)

Al Rawi restaurant in Sharjah

(Image credit: press)

Uplifting interiors at Al Rawi

(Image credit: press)

A range of painting, drawing and making activities in the childrens zone at Al Rawi

(Image credit: press)

Al Rawi is located at Sharjah's popular Al Majaz Waterfront

(Image credit: press)

Staircase design at Al Rawi

(Image credit: press)

Al Rawi bookstore

(Image credit: press)


For more information, visit the Pallavi Dean Interiors website


Al Rawi
Al Majaz Waterfront


Harriet Thorpe is a writer, journalist and editor covering architecture, design and culture, with particular interest in sustainability, 20th-century architecture and community. After studying History of Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Journalism at City University in London, she developed her interest in architecture working at Wallpaper* magazine and today contributes to Wallpaper*, The World of Interiors and Icon magazine, amongst other titles. She is author of The Sustainable City (2022, Hoxton Mini Press), a book about sustainable architecture in London, and the Modern Cambridge Map (2023, Blue Crow Media), a map of 20th-century architecture in Cambridge, the city where she grew up.