When talking about life in Qatar, one of the first things foreigners ask about is the nightlife – what do people do there at night? Where do people go to listen to music and dance? A few years ago, there was no such thing in Qatar. Today, however, nightlife in the country has become quite vibrant. With the increasing number of hotels – which house the nightclubs in Qatar – nightclubs, bars and lounges have become difficult to count and so are the numbers of local DJs.

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A DJ, which stands for disc jockey, is a person who mixes recorded music for an audience such as world famous DJs Tiesto, David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Benny Benassi, Avicii, Afrojack and many more. Originally, the term disc referred to phonograph records, not the later compact discs. Today, the term includes all forms of music playback, no matter the medium. There are several types of DJs. The most common types of DJs, especially in Qatar, are Radio DJs and Club DJs. Radio DJs or radio personalities introduce and play music that is broadcast on AM, FM, shortwave, digital or internet radio stations. Club DJs select and play music in bars, nightclubs or discothèques, concerts, parties or even in stadiums.

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DJ Joe Mitri (DJ Joe) is one of Qatar’s most popular DJs. Born and raised in Qatar, 38-year-old Lebanese Mitri started as a musician but later at the age of 16, he developed a talent and passion for DJing ‘because it was much more fun and has a greater audience,’ he said. At that time, DJing and the nightlife lifestyle was still strange to life in Qatar. ‘There was only one club, so I had to start with school and private events till I got my first residency in 2000,’ added Mitri. Today, Mitri, who is a sound engineer, is a well known Radio DJ and Club DJ in Qatar. His talent can be heard on QBS Radio and in nightclubs such QUBE at Radisson Blu Doha. ‘Well I do two types of DJing – Club and Radio Djing. For Club DJing, the most interesting thing about it in Qatar is that when I started it, it all started from scratch. So its not like I heard other DJs playing and I followed what was playing. I had to create the whole thing because there were only two or three clubs and three DJs. We were the ones who made tracks popular or unpopular. Now it’s not the same anymore,’ said Mitri.

Now Qatar is home to a countless number of DJs, who come from various parts of the world, due to the growth of nightclubs in Qatar. ‘Nightlife in Qatar has changed drastically, in every way, not only in the club scene but also on the streets, restaurants, and hotels. I remember in the 1990s at 9 pm, you would go out and see the country empty. Now sometimes you face some traffic jams even at midnight and in the early morning hours, like 3 am, after people leave the clubs, and head for restaurants to have breakfast,’ said Mitri. However, according to him, although the nightlife has changed, the music scene hasn’t. ‘It’s still the popular commercial music scene. It used to be Hip Hop and RnB in the past because that was the most popular commercial music, and now it’s more dance music, because again that’s what’s most popular commercially out there. Electronic dance music didn’t have much chance in the music scene in Qatar, though myself and a lot of other DJs tried so hard to promote it in several ways. Response was always and still is very weak, if you’re taking it as a business,’ said Mitri.

Joe Mitri QUBE-001Besides DJing, Mitri works with many music producers and musicians to record, mix and master for them. ‘One of the things I adore, besides DJing, is audio and sound engineering and audio production which I’m taking seriously right now with my studies,’ he said. Having been successful as a full-time DJ in Qatar, Mitri believes others can do it too. ‘I made a living only from being a DJ and a musician, so I’m sure others can do that too. It’s not easy like it used to be, because when I started there was not much competition, but now, there are a lot of DJs, and the chance of getting hired is very hard if you’re not well known and don’t have a proper fan base behind you,’ said Mitri, who has worked and collaborated with local musicians like Thomas Alleman, Moe Turk Track, Keyali, Austin and Maria Gazan. Mitri is planning to start a proper music community in Qatar including DJs, producers, singers, musicians and anyone generally involved in music. ‘The idea is to grow the music knowledge in all ways in Doha and to help new DJs, musicians and singers to be known to others, and with this they can start collaborating. Most people come to Doha for work and they don’t know anyone, where to start and how to begin. This will be the heaven for all people involved in music in Doha,’ said Mitri who will organise workshops, presentations, and events as part of the ‘music community’, to allow people to talk and connect in the language of music.

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Find out more about DJ Joe Mitri and other DJs in Qatar on Marhaba’s latest issue M59 which will be in stores in April 2014.

Author: Ola Diab