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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

Pioneer female DJ is about to take to the decks in Saudi Arabia

Germany's Sabrina Terence was one of the first female DJs in Dubai and she is happy to be at the forefront of change in the kingdom

Sabrina Terence is starting a six-month DJ residency at a Saudi Arabian restaurant.
Sabrina Terence is starting a six-month DJ residency at a Saudi Arabian restaurant.

A soon to be former UAE resident is breaking down barriers with beats, after taking to the decks as a DJ in Saudi Arabia.

Sabrina Terence, from Germany, who has lived and worked as a DJ in Dubai since 2006, will be moving to the Kingdom on Saturday to embark on a six-month residency at Toki restaurant in Jeddah.

She was contacted three months ago by the Chinese fine dining venue and the opportunity was music to her ears.

She believes she is the first woman DJ to perform in public in the country.

The former model is well used to being a musical trailblazer, as she was one of Dubai's first women DJs when she rocked up at the emirate 12 years ago.

“When they called I asked them ‘why me?’ and they said they wanted a big change in Jeddah, for the name, for the restaurant, which is why they thought of having a female DJ,” she said.

“It’s a big impact that people have a DJ in a restaurant, and she is a woman on top of this. The guests coming to the restaurant travel, so they already see this outside of the country.”

She admits the money is good, but insists that is not why she is making the move.

“Honestly I really did it for history, because it is history.

“If now everything will open up it’s nice to say I was the first one, that I am changing things there,” she said.

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Terence's residency in Jeddah adds to the mood of change in the country, following the move to allow women to drive and join the military this year.

Only last Saturday, Reema Juffali became the first Saudi female race licence holder to compete in the TRD 86 Cup at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.

Terence played in Toki for the first time two weeks ago and found the experience not so different from her regular sets in Dubai.

“It is not so different from DJing in a restaurant in the UAE,” she said.

But she admits she must take into consideration laws governing dancing in public places in the country.

“People really enjoy their food over there and the music. But I don’t play the music too crazy and loud so they get up and dance.

“But if they are sitting and moving their heads or upper bodies that’s totally fine.”

She will play a mixture of 80s and “deep house” music up to four times a week on its busiest days, as well as act as an artist manager to bring in more DJs to Saudi Arabia.

Terence said she was surprised to be asked to work in Saudi Arabia as she assumed that DJing would not be allowed.

“But the Crown Prince [Sheikh Mohammed bin Salman] has changed everything. He opened up the law a little bit and they got the permission,” she said.

The restaurant had a special outfit made for Terence to play in – a belted long black dress with a gold dragon on one of the sleeves that was designed by a female clothes designer from Saudi.

She leaves her hair uncovered.

“You don’t have to cover your hair now and I am very happy about it,” she said.

“I have some other abayas now, blue and beige. You can wear them with jeans and you don’t really have to close them anymore. You can keep them open a little,” she said.

“And they don’t have to be really long. You can have them even to the knee. It’s getting fashionable there.”

She said she has had a lot of supportive comments from the diners at the restaurant.

“The new generation is very happy for more equality for woman. People want to take pictures or ask for your social media credits to tag you,” she said.

There have also been some negative comments, although nothing to do with her gender. Some people just like to eat their dinner in peace and quiet, she said.

“You have that in every country. There is always one table that want to eat, talk and hear no music.”