Discover more from Sa'alouni El Nas
Guest Feature: Dina Sayedahmed
I want to make a quick plug for an incredible panel discussion that’s happening later today. The Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association will be hosting a conversation on best practices for media in covering climate change, energy, and the environment in the Middle East/North Africa/Southwest Asia.
The panelists are all incredible journalists, and the moderator is my dear friend (and previous newsletter guest) Jennifer Hijazi.
The discussion starts at 11:00AM EST, 10:00AM CST, 8:00AM PST, 4:00PM GMT, 6:00PM Beirut, 8:00PM Dubai (for those of you who aren’t able to make it, there will be a recording of the discussion made available). Registration is free, and you can do that here!
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Dina Sayedahmed!
Dina works on the production side of things at Al Jazeera English. She voluntarily commits herself to a life of loss and misery (Arsenal fan) but is also a general enthusiast. Music? Love it. Food? Excited about it. Painting? Let’s go. Gardening? She’s ready.
An incredibly thoughtful and empathetic human being, Dina clearly takes pride and care in telling stories in a considerate and careful way. Plus, Dina is HILARIOUS. Y’all, trust me on this. Her humor truly shines on Twitter. When I asked Dina to share some of her go-to music, she clearly took the time to explain why certain artists and songs spoke to her:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
Justin Bieber’s song, “Ghost,” has shamelessly been on repeat. I’m also late to the Issam al-Najjar party, but “Hadal Ahbek” makes me WEEP. The rhythm, the wording, the singing. Imagine being told to just *rest*? And that if everyone is against you, they’re still on your side? Bruh. I’m a mess. Issam, save me.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
I’m a Scorpio, so this is a really fun one. What type of feels is it? Is it the-world-feels-too-heavy type of feels? Then it’s “Youth” by Daughter or “Turn” by The Wombats. Am I sad about racialized poverty in America? Akon’s “Sunny Day.” But if i’m feelsing over someone’s son, then “Shim el Yasmine” by Mashrou Leila is my go-to. Mashrou Leila is generally *such* a feelsy band. “Bint el Khandaq” is a great one, but this is more for when I’m so angrily fed up with feeling like I’m in the passenger’s seat of my own life. Hamed Sinno (my eternally unrequited love interest) treads this line of consoling his listener but also basically saying, yakhtee, you’re being ridiculous. Let’s go. Drive away. Never look back. Why are we planting seeds of promise in a damaged and infertile land?
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
The first thing that comes to mind is Amr Diab’s song, “Ne’oul Eh.” I am not exaggerating when I say it was blaring out of *every* shop in Cairo summer 2007. I was just starting to develop my taste in music at the time — I was really into boy bands like Green Day, Nirvana, My Chemical Romance — and my cousin ended up gifting me the cassette (yes! *cassette*) to this album that summer. Between then and now, a lot of indie artists have made their mark in Egypt’s music industry like El Joker, Wiggz, and Cairokee, and I’m really in love with the shaabi scene, but Amr Diab is what takes me back to those hot Cairo summers.
Home, for me, is also with my parents and siblings in the U.S., where I lived most of my life (sorry). I vividly remember sitting on the living room floor with all of my siblings, eating cucumber and feta sandwiches for breakfast with my parents “in the background” sipping their morning tea, and watching an excerpt of the music video to Michael Jackson’s song, “You Rock My World.” It must’ve been playing on ART or something. I can still reimagine seeing his silhouette and fedora against the red background, and I remember exchanging commentary with my siblings, saying things like, “you know he made himself a girl?” (lol) and “he used to be Black, you know that?”
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
Every Nancy Ajram and Ruby song, and most of Sherine’s too. Surface level this sounds very basic, but these women are the backbone of MENA. Please show some respect for our politically problematic queens.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
“Tell the Vision” by Pop Smoke, Kanye, and Pusha T and “Alors on Danse” by Stromae. “Ensay” by Mohamed Ramadan is also pretty high on this list. I hate Mohamed Ramadan. I despise the man. Terrible politics, misogynistic/macho man persona, and abysmal acting. Very man™️. But ufffff this song makes me feel POWERFUL. Imma do what I want and imma forget all about you. And if you ever told someone about us, they won’t even believe you. They’ll walk away and leave you standing. You think you can play ME, the king of this game?? UFFFFF.
Big shout out to Dina for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Dina’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. And go follow Dina on Twitter so you don’t miss out on her funny tweets!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Flows by Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Artists 🎧
Mesh Men Hon - Waynick
Khalas - Nej
Ma Kan Ala Baly - Andrew Mounir, Hana Ghoneim, and Ahmed Nihad
Dirty - Almas
Feinak - Husa & Zeyada
Btati - WalGz
Mickey - Nessyou featuring Ouenza
Shai bi Laban - Sammany
Law Sheftak - Ghaliaa featuring Noel Kharman
Keifak Enta - Amin El Rayan featuring Abo Lila
🎤 Vibes by Latinx & Hispanic Artists 🎤
We Don’t Talk About Bruno - Carolina Gaitán, Mauro Castillo, Adassa, Rhenzy Feliz, Diane Guerrero, and Stephanie Beatriz
Put On Repeat - Sabrina Claudio
La Reina - Christina Aguilera
Vacaciones - Luis Fonsi featuring Manuel Turizo
La Tóxica - Mariah Angeliq
otro lugar - despertar - Judeline
Alright - KYA
Oro - Tina Pámpano featuring ArteBeats
Mal Paso - Eva Ayllón
Fiesta Cumbiambera - Aniceto Molina
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Chocolate Hills - Khruangbin featuring Leon Bridges
Boss - Ivorian Doll
Vibes and Stuff - A Tribe Called Quest
Nice - Young T & Bugsey featuring Blxst
Obsessed - Fave
Jump - Van Halen
Moonlight - JAY-Z
Frequently - summer ‘20 - Elujay
Pressure - Gwen Bunn
How Long - Tove Lo
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in Lebanon: Denying the Basic Right of Nationality - Karima Chebbo, Al Rawiya
The inability of Lebanese women to confer their nationality to their spouses and children not only denies them their basic human rights, but also deprives their families, who are subsequently left without citizenship rights.
Lebanon's Saad Hariri leaves a decayed dynasty and career of decline - Karim Merhej, Middle East Eye
“In Monday’s press conference, Hariri came across as a martyr-like figure who has had to swallow the bitterest of pills and who has made the harshest of sacrifices throughout his political career in order to protect Lebanon from civil strife. Yet, this narrative conveniently ignores the fact that throughout all of his time in government…Hariri had little to offer other than the corrupt sectarian spoils-sharing so perfected by his father and the rest of the post-war elites.”
Sundance Doc ‘Sirens’ Will Make You Fall in Love With Lebanon’s Only Female Thrash Metal Band - Laura Bradley, The Daily Beast
Rita Baghdadi’s new documentary captures a tumultuous period for a group of women whose music goes against the grain in a collapsing society.
Lebanon's 2022 elections: What to expect from the diaspora vote - Dario Sabaghi, The New Arab
Lebanon's expat community has registered to vote in the upcoming May elections in record numbers, but it remains to be seen whether the diaspora vote will succeed in shaking the political establishment.
Trauma porn and the commodification of Lebanon’s tragedy - Luma Makari, The New Humanitarian
‘The most traumatic moment in his life was on display for anyone to see.”
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
#MeToo wave in Morocco over 'sex for grades' scandal - Agence France-Presse
Female Moroccan university students have broken their silence about professors demanding sexual favours in return for good grades, a scandal that has shaken the higher eduction system.
The Biden administration could have ended the brutal war in Yemen. It’s now making it worse. - Shuaib Almosawa and Sarah Leah Whitson, The Washington Post
The vast majority of Yemenis want the nightmare to end. When will the Biden administration take decisive action?
Sudan’s revolution enters its second phase: disrupting the state - Wini Omer, Open Democracy
Resistance committees are mobilising at grassroots level to bring about a fundamental transformation of the state.
The Arab Diaspora You Probably Haven’t Heard Of - Amina Kaabi, Sole
Latin America is home to a surprisingly high rate of people with Arab heritage—so why don’t we know much about their stories?
For the sake of Palestine, we need to talk about the infighting eating away at pro-Palestine activism - Dana El Kurd, The New Arab
Toxic tendencies, resembling dogmatic belief rather than a reasoned study of effective activism, has led to fragmentation among Palestine solidarity groups. This is doubly damaging at such a crucial time, writes Dana El Kurd.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Bay Area’s bread culture has a growing, exciting facet: Middle Eastern breads with California style - Ferron Salniker, San Francisco Chronicle
A handful of chefs and bakers in the Bay Area are combining techniques and flavors from California and Middle Eastern cooking to create complex, deeply flavored breads.
Perfect Strangers: Nadine Labaki on her smash-hit Netflix film - William Mullaly, Esquire Middle East
The Oscar-nominated director tells all about her latest star turn, in a landmark film that has become an immediate lightning rod across the region.
The Egyptian Cassette Archive documents thousands of tape cover artworks from the 1960s – 2000s - Liz Gorny, It’s Nice That
Curator Amr Hamid discusses how his rare archive of cassette covers traces the evolution of Egyptian design, and preserves it.
Singing Back to Wax: Early Arabic Recordings Revisited - Yara Salahiddeen and Martin Stokes, Hazine
"We clearly have important things to learn about past sound worlds from old recording technologies, just as we do from historic instruments, historic acoustic environments, and documents revealing how people once listened."
Nimco Happy and the rise of Somali music in Britain - Edna Mohamed, Al Jazeera
When Nimco Happy’s Isii Nafta (Love You More Than My Life) went viral on social media last year, many saw it as a significant step towards Somali music entering the mainstream.
Get to Know: Dar Disku - Ria Hylton, DJ Mag
Get acquainted with Dar Disku, the London and Bahrain-based collective and label refashioning buried disco gems of the Middle East and North Africa.
📚 Other Reads 📚
You Quit. I Quit. We All Quit. And It’s Not a Coincidence. - Emma Goldberg, The New York Times
Why the decision to leave a job can become contagious.
Serial murders, beatings and beheadings: Violence against the homeless is increasing, advocates say - Kyle Swenson, The Washington Post
Experts say the last year has seen a spike in violence against the homeless.
Trump’s Travel Ban Forever Changed The Lives Of Muslims Around The World - Rowaida Abdelaziz, HuffPost
A HuffPost investigation finds hundreds of immigration cases where the ban irrevocably affected life — and death.
The school shooting generation grows up - Marin Cogan, Vox
After coming of age in a world wholly unprepared to deal with the aftermath of mass school shootings, an early wave of survivors is now in their 30s and 40s, grappling with the present.
I’m still hyper-vigilant about COVID. Why do I feel so alone? - Jessica Gelt, Los Angeles Times
With caseloads breaking records and death counts rising once again, why now? I want to share in the optimism but I can’t. In fact, I feel as if I’m being gaslighted.