“If you don’t drink, how do you meet people?” It’s a question often asked to Muslim millennials
DUBAI – For Muslim women wishing to enjoy a night out in an environment without alcohol, men or even smartphone cameras, Sabrina Salhi’s social events are the answer.
“I felt that the nightlife and entertainment options were quite limited, in that they catered to certain types of people, but left what I saw as an underserved niche,” she told The National.
Salhi, who lives in Dubai, has launched an all-new female-only event concept called Unveiled DXB.
The event offers women a chance to enjoy a night out without alcohol, men, or cameras.
“I always say that it’s very important to have a balanced lifestyle, and I think a huge part of that is having an outlet where you can just enjoy yourself. But when you turn to those sorts of evening entertainment options, a lot of them come fueled with things that I didn’t find compatible with my lifestyle, and I assumed that many women out there felt the same as well,” she explained.
“I thought that it would be a good idea to come up with this event where we can go out, meet people and, at the same time, enjoy ourselves, dance, do a bit of shopping, get pampered and all of those lovely things that we ladies enjoy, in a way that doesn’t necessarily compromise our beliefs.
“So there’s no alcohol, no men and no photography; it’s very private, basically space for women to just let loose.”
Unveiled DXB is an all-inclusive ladies’ night, open to women of all nationalities, faiths, and backgrounds. It is not limited to women who wear the hijab.
“Surprisingly, despite what the name might suggest, a lot of the guests who came the last time wouldn’t necessarily identify with that,” said Salhi.
“This caters to the Muslim market for sure, but it doesn’t necessarily exclude anybody else.”
Though the first image that occurs to mind when hearing the word “unveiled” may be of a woman literally taking her hijab off, the name of the event carries multiple meanings.
“Whether or not you veil outside is irrelevant – if you do, then you can feel free to unveil, we have a cloakroom service and it’s completely private,” Salhi said.
“The other thing is, it’s unveiling a different side of us, and it’s also unveiling a lot of brands out here that I want to support through our pop-ups; there are loads of regional designers that I would love to help bring exposure to,” she added.
Salhi held her first event in June, and the next one is scheduled for October 1.
“The evening will consist of really good music with the female DJ Liutik, and we’ve got food and drink flowing throughout the night,” she said.
“When I select a venue, the top of my priority list is how private can this venue be. So I need to make sure that it can be completely shut off and it’s self-contained, with restroom facilities inside,” said the entrepreneur.
“With regards to the alcohol, I aim to have the event in an atmosphere that’s quite loungey, so it does lend itself to the restaurant/bar concept. However, the irony is that this is a non-alcoholic event,” says Salhi. “So we remove all the liquor at the venue.”
In an event with no camera, those wishing to share the moment on social media were offered a special space where cameras are allowed.
“I’m a millennial myself, and I’m pretty addicted to my phone, so we do have a zone where there is a photo booth with lots of fun props and backdrops, and there you can take all the selfies you want,” she says. “In a way, not only is it for guests’ privacy, but it’s also taking us back to the old times where we used to just enjoy ourselves without having the need to document every single second of it.”
Salhi hopes to expand her project on a global space.
“I personally feel as if I’m tapping into a niche that I represent. And I feel like I could be any woman, anywhere, and they probably feel the same frustrations and desires that I do,” she says.
The next cities to host Unveiled events will be Abu Dhabi and Jeddah, and then, next spring, London.
“I’m from the United Kingdom, and have been living in the Middle East and socializing with the ladies here for a long time, so I know what they like and don’t like, hence why I think this is a concept that could really take off on an international scale, inshallah.”