Why Dania Al Sabban isn't letting her skin hold her back from being a singing sensation: 'I should be happy about being different'

The Saudi Arabian teen has become a social media star, thanks to her moving covers of Arabic hits

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Saudi Arabian teenager Dania Al Sabban is smashing stereotypes and creating smash hits, all at once.

The singer, 15, has become something of a sensation on social media, thanks to her stirring renditions of popular Arabic tracks.

Her recent cover of Hussain Al Jassmi's Bel Bont el Areed in particular caused a splash, as she transformed the Emirati superstar's fast-paced number into a more soulful track.

"That's what makes me special, I sing the songs in my own way," Al Sabban tells The National.

And despite being known for her soft vocals, the teen doesn’t just stick to one style. “I offer songs in different ways, so I can appeal to different tastes," she says.

Al Sabban’s family discovered her talent at a young age, as her mother would sing to her at bedtime.

"She noticed I had a nice voice,” Al Sabban says.

However, it took years until the teen felt ready to share her voice on social media. With the support of her family, she decided to chase her dreams and began uploading videos 18 months ago.

Her cover of Ashofak Yom was the first song she shared on Instagram, with the video garnering 100,000 views within a matter of days.

"I didn’t expect that much engagement and interaction, it truly pushed me to upload more songs," she says.

Al Sabban's health struggles were the reason behind her hesitation to share her talent. She suffers from ichthyosis, an incurable condition that affects the appearance of the skin, resulting in dry and flaky areas.

"Of course I faced bullying, but my parents warned me of this before I was on social media," she says.

In fact, past experience had prepared her to face these comments.

"Ever since I was a child, people have scrutinised me," she says. "I used to cry in front of people, but my family told me not to get upset. In the end, we are all human."

Her parents' comments inspired her to stop letting her condition hold her back.

"I became convinced that I should live my life and show people that this is normal. People who have the same condition, or any other condition, should go out and enjoy their time. In the end, we only live once.

"I should be happy about being different to everyone else."

In her short career, Al Sabban has already released 11 of her own songs, as well as a number of cover tracks.

“I have worked with different composers and writers," she says.

In 2019, her Saudi National Day song grabbed the attention of Turki Al Sheikh, chairman of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority, who asked her to be part of Riyadh Season.

“It was an amazing feeling to sing on stage; I was nervous but excited," Al Sabban says.

Although she planned to perform seven songs, the audience pushed her to continue.

“I ended up singing 20 songs," she says.

Her next goal is to create a hit album and she hopes to duet with some A-list stars. "I dream of the day I will sing with Ahlam, Al Jassmi and Balqees," she says.

But beyond singing with her heroes, Al Sabban also hopes to send a positive message to those battling their own insecurities.

"It is good to show people that you are strong."