One Of Abu Dhabi’s Best Kept Secrets

Secret Abu Dhabi Book Store

Hidden behind the majestic structure of Royal Rose hotel on Electra Street is one of the capital’s best-kept secrets.

Actually, Thrift Distribution and Books Trading doesn’t really fit the “hidden gem” category anymore, having been around for a decade already.

The shop, however, has retained its humble nature – unremarkable façade, books stowed in seemingly unorganised fashion.

Abu Dhabi's Best kept secret

But that what makes this bookshop all the more charming, making it a favourite hunting ground for casual and ardent bibliophiles searching for a vast but affordable selection of books.

The bookstore is the brainchild of Indian expat Z.H. Riyaz, who in 2008 decided to open a retail outlet selling second-hand books.

“One day I was parking my car and I saw a couple of books in the garbage bin and I thought ‘why are people throwing these books?’ So I came up with this concept to reuse old books and sell them,” Riyaz fondly recalls.

“Initially we were struggling a lot. Gradually, we got help from people, specially expats who were going back home and didn’t know what to do with their book collection.

Abu Dhabi's Best Kept Secret

They would call us and we’d collect the books. Nowadays, people are bringing the books to us, some through donations, while others would exchange theirs for other titles.”

Riyaz estimates that the bookshop currently carries around 50,000 titles across various genres. He’s also planning to open a second outlet in neighbouring Dubai soon.

Running the bookshop is no breeze, but it helps that Riyaz himself is an avid reader and his passion for the business did not waver.

Abu Dhabi's Best Kept Secret

And in today’s time where reading materials are readily available in digital form, the amiable entrepreneur swears by his love for books in physical format.

“Nothing beats the feeling of touching the pages – it’s nostalgic,” Riyaz smiles.

“There’s just something about it that cannot be replicated by e-books.”

Thrift Distribution and Books Trading, Sheikh Zayed the First Street, Electra, behind Royal Rose Hotel.

Call 02-6711903, Sat-Thu 10am-2.30pm and 5.30pm-10pm, Fri 5pm-10pm.

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