Photo: Tristan Hollingsworth

Sama’ Abdulhadi, the 30-year old Palestinian DJ, has been released on bail by Palestinian authorities following an eight-day detention in a Jericho jail.

Abdulhadi, who plays as SAMA’, was detained on December 27 following a private event created for a pre-recorded performance series titled The Residency for Beatport. The location for the event, Maqam Nabi Musa in the West Bank, is in part still used as a place of worship but was also declared an attraction for tourists by the Ministry of Tourism in 2019. It’s available for hire, and many non-electronic musical events have taken place there.

Abdulhadi’s detention led to huge international support for her release from the electronic community of artists and DJs, as well as musical icons like Brian Eno and Roger Waters. A petition was created asking for her release and has had over 100,000 signatures.

In late 2020, Abdulhadi was commissioned to film a four-part, one-month residency for Beatport with the intention of showcasing the growing music scene in the Middle East.

The third location of the residency took place in the courtyard of a hostel on the property of the Nabi Mussa historical, tourist, and cultural site. It was approved to Abdulhadi in writing by the General Director of the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, she says. The recording was private with a total of 30 friends and working crew in attendance, but it was ended early by a group who burst into the venue and told guests to leave, claiming it wasn’t right for the recording to be taking place in a religious site.

Abdulhadi was released on bail on the basis of a cash bond and a restriction of travel order outside of Palestine. She remains subject to further investigation on the charges of desecrating a holy site and religious symbols, plus the violation of Covid-19 emergency measures. She faces up to two years of imprisonment if indicted, pending the Attorney General’s decision whether the charges will be pursued or not.

Abdulhadi is now safely with her family. “I am safe and well and would like to thank everybody who has spoken out in support of my situation and called for my immediate release,” she says. “I am overwhelmed by the support from my fellow musicians, artists, activists, and the entire music community. I want to thank anybody and everybody who has made me feel so supported. At this moment, I just want to spend time with my family.”

Abdulhadi, originally from Ramallah, rose through her powerful Boiler Room event which was streamed from the city on June 22, 2018. The broadcast has received over six-million views. Her goal has always been to put Palestine on the musical map and use her status to support the growing number of musicians at home. You can read more about her in her XLR8R podcast here, nearly three hours of high-octane techno.

To learn more about the Palestinian music scene, read William Ralston’s featured for the BBC here.