Thanks to the many expats and tourists within the region, Dubai is one of the most culturally diverse places in the world. This has created a safe haven for the many freelance DJs in Dubai that depend on various events and gigs to enable them to make a living. Through this post, find out who some of the best DJs in the region are, and what genre of music they’re best known for.
Whether it’s a luxurious bar in some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world or a disco under the city’s brightest lights, there are plenty of gigs for every freelance DJ in the UAE. The city offers music lovers a wide variety of options for listening to music from award-winning DJs.
Trends in music taste among UAE consumers
According to a music study by Sony Music Entertainment Middle East, 33 percent of females in the UAE fancy dance music compared to only 19 percent of males. The same survey revealed that jazz music is more popular than hip-hop music in the UAE. Reggae, indie rock, and trance music did not rank well among Dubai listeners.
Boiling down to the specifics, 35 percent of the total population were Adele fans. Shakira came in second with 32 percent, while Rihanna and Elissa took up 31 and 35 percent of the total population, respectively. The study segmented people into four categories.
Categories of music consumers
Fanatics are people who have a passion for music and actively attend gigs as well as create playlists. The majority of fanatics are women aged between 21 and 29 who enjoy listening to musicians such as Taylor Swift, David Guetta, and Megan Trainor. This group turns out to large concerts and use digital platforms and applications such as Shazam to discover new music.
They form 32 percent of the total population and are the most common group. They enjoy partying and socializing, and they get most of their music tips from their fanatic friends. They enjoy listening to 90’s RnB and some regional artists such as Elissa, Nancy, and Tamar Hosny. A small number of them also like listening to Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber.
This group enjoys listening to music that tops the charts. However, they rarely buy the music or attend concerts.
This group cares less about the latest music artists, and they would instead invest their money in other things such as sports rather than music. They mostly listen to Arabic Rock, rap, hip-hop, and only a tiny percentage listen to electronic music.
Most popular DJs in Dubai
Whether you are a rock fan, house fanatic, or a hip-hop head, Dubai offers a wide selection of DJs who are famous for specific music genres – depending on what kind of music you love. Here is a list of the most popular DJs according to their genre.
1. Dj Raxon – Electronic Music
Since early 2005, DJ Raxon has proved to the Dubai revelers that he knows what they want to listen to and when they want to listen to it. Raxon has rightfully earned his place as one of the best DJs in Electronic Music in Dubai and worldwide with his unique skills.
He has performed in renowned events such as Creamsfield in Abu Dhabi alongside industry favorites such as Danny Howells and John Digweed. Dj Raxon is famous for his track selections which have a unique zing to them, leaving people wanting more.
Dj Raxon is also a producer and does song remixes too. He has released songs with international labels such as Baroque, Plastic City, Night Drive Music, and Replug. He currently performs at several Dubai nightclubs, which include Provocateur and Texture. You can get check out some of his unique playlists on Soundcloud.
2. DJ Bliss – Hip-hop
Dj Bliss is one of the pioneers of the party scene in Dubai. His career goes back from the late ’90s where he managed to curve his career path doing small DJ jobs at a local theme park. He later landed a job as a guest DJ in a Dubai radio station.
His first taste of international stardom came a couple of years later when he landed a “Ministry of Sound” performance in London. During the late 2000s, Dj Bliss had gained international acclaim from his parties which had created a fresh wave of music for the youth in Dubai.
He attracted DJs such as DJ Jazzy, DJ Drama, DJ Jazzy, and Moss Def. Currently, he has a radio show under the name “The Real Flava” and an urban parties platform known as 411.
3. DJ Andy Buchan – Indie Classics
Generally speaking, DJ Andy Buchan can mix anything. However, his chart-topping releases, including Peppermint Jam, Paper Disco, and more, make him one of Indie Classic mixes’ best DJs. He got rave reviews from DJ Mag and Mixmag and acclaim from big-name DJs such as Greg Wilson and Dj Bicep.
Andy has been a regular in the Dubai clubs and notable festivals from his own long-running and award-winning nights and long-term residences on Trilogy and Pacha. Andy has been booked twice at the Creamfields UAE and has been a familiar name on the Rolling Stone and Time Out. You can check out some of his best mixes here.
4. Marko Smokingroove – House Music
Back in 2009, Marko Smokingroove was host to the hottest house party in Dubai. He has also won the long-term resident DJ at Nasimi Beach Club in Dubai. With exclusive soundtracks, Marko has been featured in the tenth position in the DJ Magazine Middle East Top 50.
Time Out named Marko the best local DJ for two consecutive years (2013 and 2014). Marko’s unique style of House music has been showcased at the Sundance festival, which attracts crowds of more than 12000 people. You can check him out on Facebook or listen to some of his mixes on Soundcloud.
5. Deejay Mneddy – African Music
Kennedy Thoya from Mombasa Kenya may not be a synonymous name in the tongues of many people in Dubai. However, when you mention DJ Mneddy, he is bound to get a standing ovation. DJ Mneddy attributes his success to a good understanding of artists and audiences.
This is in addition to knowing the tempo and rhythm to create music that connects to the soul. Over the years, Kiza Dubai has witnessed a new wave of followers who want to experience the best of Afrobeats, at which DJ Mneddy is a master.
6. DJ Basil/Karrouhat – Arab Music
Karrouhat was born and raised in Kuwait, where he gained popularity as a guitarist and lead singer. Arabic reggae has been Karrouhat’s distinct sound which was influenced by his love for Caribbean reggae music.
Karrouhat is currently based in Dubai, where people enjoy his uniques skills on the deck. You can listen to some of his music mixes on SoundCloud and get to understand why he is one of the most sought-after DJs in Dubai.
7. Frederick Stone – Techno Music
After a brief spell in New York, Stone moved to Dubai, where he has become a stalwart. He is a resident DJ at Blue Marlin Ibiza, where he plays out his synonymous techno beats every Friday and Saturday. He also has his night (Bootik) at Vanity, where he usually performs every Wednesday. DJ Stone credits his passion to the love of sharing his music and watching the crowds react in ecstasy at his tunes. You can visit Soundcloud if you don’t want to miss out on some of his awesome tunes.
8. DJ Soulninja – Old Skul Blues and Soul Music
Soulninja is the resident DJ at Zero Gravity and Pacha and is one of the most sought-after DJs in Dubai. His fantastic selection of soul music has lit up dancefloors in every venue that he has performed. He has earned the highly coveted Best Dubai DJ two years running. He also won the Pioneer Middle East DJ competition back in 2012 when he burst onto the scene.
In 2014 he represented the Middle East at the Pioneer DJ finals in the Philippines. Soulninja has a show every Friday on Dance FM 97.8 or Beat FM 97.8. His music rules the airwaves and has been played in fitness centers worldwide, and his mixes have been featured on all Emirates Airlines flights. You can enjoy some of his best soul mixes on Soundcloud.
9. DJ Shadow – Bollywood Music
Dj Shadow has refashioned Bollywood music to unseen levels in Dubai. He regularly plays at the People by Crystal and Cirque de Soir. DJ Shadow is one of the few successful DJs who solely focus on Bollywood music. He won the Masal awards in 2010 and 2012, and he was awarded the best DJ by Ahlan best Dubai in 2013. You can sample some of his best mixes on SoundCloud.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do all DJs in Dubai specialize in a specific genre?
Not at all. There are many DJs that simply work on general gigs that require them to create a blended playlist, incorporating various genres of music. However, if you are taste-specific, you’d rather go for a DJ that specializes in that particular type of music.
Should I pick a niche if I want to become a DJ in Dubai?
Most DJs that specialize have identified a gap in that field and wish to make a name for them there. However, it would be prudent to understand that most of the DJs that currently specialize in a particular genre of music all started out as generalists. You get to identify your interest based on your own personal experiences and also based on the type of clientele you interact with the most.
Can a genre-specific DJ perform at an event?
Yes. However, before picking the DJ, you should first communicate with them and tell them about your preferences so that you see if they are able to incorporate your playlist into the mix. Even though they are specialists in a specific genre of music, most of these DJs are still able to do an amazing job when performing other types of music.
The evolution of the Dubai music scene has resulted in a bigger audience that requires a wider music variety. Specializing in a specific genre is a good idea if you want to succeed as a freelance DJ in Dubai. Specializing in a particular genre will set you apart from many DJs in the industry, and getting DJ gigs will be easier for you.