Discover more from Sa'alouni El Nas
Guest Feature: Jasmine M. El-Gamal
Well the United States has a new administration now. It still feels a bit surreal, to be honest. I think many of us felt a range of emotions on Inauguration Day: relief, optimism, anger, joy, exhaustion. Whatever you were or still are feeling, this week was a time to collectively exhale after the last four years. But we do have to get back to work and continue fighting for progressive policies.
Yes, we can take some small comfort in knowing that the rhetoric and actions of the previous administration will no longer consume us. But we cannot go back to “normal” because that’s no longer enough. We’ve got work to do.
Keeping the intro short here because we have a lot to get into. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Jasmine M. El-Gamal!
Jasmine is a political analyst, writer and speaker on U.S. foreign policy, the Middle East, Islamophobia, the Syria refugee crisis, among others. From 2015-2020, Jasmine was a Senior Fellow with the Middle East program at the Atlantic Council, where she focused primarily on U.S. policies in the Middle East and the Syria conflict. Jasmine previously served as a Middle East advisor at the Pentagon, where she served four Secretaries of Defense and served as the Acting Chief of Staff for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy. She was also a Special Assistant to three consecutive Under Secretaries of Defense for Policy. Born in New York and raised in Egypt, Jasmine’s experiences in the aftermath of 9/11 compelled her to spend her career advancing a less militarized U.S. approach to the Middle East, first as a U.S. public servant and then as a writer, analyst and media commentator.
Anything I’ve ever read from Jasmine has been incredibly insightful and deeply personal. But even as I read her analysis and follow her sharp Twitter threads, I always wondered: what kind of music does she listen to?
1. What is your favorite song right now?
Ok, this changes every other day but at the time of this writing, it has to be "Levitating" by Dua Lipa (any Dua song automatically goes at the top of my "play on repeat" list). She exudes confidence, female empowerment and an infectious energy, making her music fun and irresistible to belt out (more often than not while dancing in the shower--I'm not gonna lie!)
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
This is a tough one! Honestly it depends on the mood, but for this one, I'll go to my soulmate (other than my husband, of course!) Freddie Mercury and "Love of My Life." The purity and love in Freddie's for his then-partner Mary Austin (who would remain his best friend till his death) brings me close to tears every time. The live version at Wembley in 1986 is just everything, and Brian May and Freddie together on stage are pure magic.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
"Home" has been so many different places over the years, so there is a different song for each one! Just a couple: Fairouz "Sa2alouny el Nas" brings me back to the first time I visited and fell in love with Beirut; her voice opened up the magic and pain of the city in a way no one could explain. And of course Umm Kalthoum's "Alf Leila w Leila" never fails to deliver when I'm missing the beautiful spirit of Egypt and its people.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
The one I've been singing along to most recently is "Yesterday" by The Beatles. I've been in a very nostalgic mood lately, turning the page on a new chapter in my personal and professional lives and watching the impact of 2020 on people everywhere. There is something achingly beautiful and completely relatable in Paul McCartney's voice and words here.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
I have an entire playlist that I crank up when I'm getting ready to go out, or heading to a big meeting where I need to knock it out of the park. "Save Your Tears" by The Weeknd and "Prisoner" by Miley Cyrus and Dua Lipa are at the top of that list right now, but my boy Freddie is a constant with "Don't Stop Me Now." The latter almost always results in someone asking me to turn the music down!
Big shout out to Jasmine for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Jasmine’s songs will be included with this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. And follow Jasmine on Twitter for her incredible analysis on all things happening in the world, and for her genuine humanity.
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Arab Flows (Middle Eastern & North African artists) 🎧
Awaa - DYSTINCT
Bsehtek (Freestyle) - Perrie
Alerte - Flenn
3eyno Melaneh - Mahasneh
El Kess Yaddour - Labess
You Are - Malak
Untitled - شيطان - Wafia
Jani - T.A.
Mouharrami - Adonis
Menak Wla Meni - Inez
🎤 Las Vibras (Latinx & Hispanic artists) 🎤
tus ojos - Salt Cathedral
Llueve Adentro - Chita featuring ONIRIA
Mi Corazón Es Tuyo - El Chacal
Me Come e Some - Heavy Baile featuring Valesca Popozuda, Larinhx, and Leo Justi
Paraná - Malena Zavala
Techno Cumbia - Selena
Deja Vu - Shakira featuring Prince Royce
No Me Juzgues - Farruko featuring Hozwal and Kelmitt
ooh la la - Run The Jewels featuring Mexican Institute of Sound and Sante Fe Klan
🎼 Other Music 🎼
Price Tags - Jazmine Sullivan featuring Anderson .Paak
A.P.I.D.T.A. - Jay Electronica featuring Jay-Z and Khruangbin
Weekend - Yemi Alade featuring Estelle
Rapture - iio featuring Nadia Ali
Use Somebody - dvsn
Living Room - Kota the Friend
Curious - VanJess featuring Jimi Tents and Garren
Can’t Help Falling In Love - Kina Grannis
Many Men (Curtis) - Katori Walker
Southside - Lloyd featuring Ashanti
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Currency crisis making teaching fees unpayable, Lebanese students say - Yara Abi Nader, Reuters
With Lebanon facing its worst economic crisis ever, two private universities, the American University of Beirut and the Lebanese American University have raised the exchange rate their fees are based on to 3,900 Lebanese pounds per dollar - at a stroke making teaching almost three times more expensive for students paying in the local currency.
Lebanon opened up for the holidays to help its economy. Hospitals are now filled with COVID-19 patients - Cherine Yazbeck, ABC News Australia
The country has seen daily infection rates soar recently to the highest levels in the region, with cases passing the 6,000 mark for the first time last Friday.
Dangerous liaisons: How finance and politics are inextricably linked in Lebanon — part I of II - Nada Maucourant Atallah and Omar Tamo, L’Orient Today
Beyond the political and geopolitical context, both politicians and their financiers kept the system on its feet because it served their interests.
Maronite Christians and the Third Way - Anthony Elghossain, Newlines Magazine
After more than a millennium, the Maronites of Lebanon are still here — along with all their contradictions.
Robert Saleh is far more than the first Muslim coach in the NFL - Khaled Beydoun, The Undefeated
Lebanese-American Robert Saleh is the first Muslim head coach in the NFL and the fourth head coach of Lebanese descent in the league.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Twin Suicide Bombings In Baghdad Market Kill At Least 32, Wound Over 100 - Alice Fordham and Jaclyn Diaz, NPR
Twin suicide bombings at a Baghdad market killed at least 32 people and injured 110 others on Thursday, according to Iraq's health ministry. Of the injured, 36 are being treated in hospitals.
Egypt Denied an Oxygen Failure Killed Covid Patients. We Found That It Did. - Mona El-Naggar and Yousur Al-Hlou, The New York Times
For many Egyptians, a video offered a rare and uncensored view of the coronavirus’s real toll at the peak of Egypt’s second wave of the pandemic.
Yemen: This doctor saw COVID hospital empty after fake death text - Nawal al-Maghafi, BBC News
As war-torn Yemen braces itself for a second wave of COVID-19, one doctor recalls how she battled the pandemic alone after her colleagues fled the hospital, and the dramatic fake news that plagued the assistance when it eventually arrived.
France to reckon with Algeria colonial past, won't apologize - Sylvie Corbet, Associated Press
French President Emmanuel Macron wants to take further steps to reckon with France’s colonial-era wrongs in Algeria but is not considering an official apology, his office said.
In Tunisia, Some Wonder if the Revolution Was Worth It- Vivian Yee, The New York Times
Tunisians are putting their hard-won right to criticize the government to good use. They just wish there were less to protest.
🎶 Music & Culture 🎶
Design Matters - Rand Al-Hadethi, GQ Middle East
The Arabic Book Cover Archive is on a quest to revive a lost art to its former glory – and stimulate a wave of creativity along the way.
Keep Beethoven Weird - Alex Ross, The New Yorker
We’ve put the scowling composer in a box.
Courts Are Preying On Rappers and Their Lyrics - Andre Gee, Complex
“It’s a very dangerous precedent. It’s now law. It can now be cited by other courts, where we have these vague lyrics and it can now be said, ‘These are admissions. These are a confession.’”
After a six-year absence, Jazmine Sullivan found her voice in the inner lives of Black women - Mikael Wood, Los Angeles Times
The storytelling is the thing on Sullivan’s gripping new album, “Heaux Tales.”
Start a Virtual Listening Club—It’ll Change Your Life - Devon Powers and Erin MacLeod, Pitchfork
Weekly themed salons on Zoom offer direction to personal listening at a moment when so many things feel directionless.
📚 Other Reads 📚
Waking Up From The American Dream - Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, The New Yorker
“Growing up undocumented, I learned that the price of my innocence was the guilt of my parents.”
How a 22-year-old L.A. native became Biden’s inauguration poet - Julia Barajas, Los Angeles Times
Amanda Gorman, all of 22, became the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles at age 16 in 2014 and the first national youth poet laureate three years later. On Wednesday, she became the youngest poet to write and recite a piece at a presidential inauguration.
The Hard Part Out Loud - Oksana Masters, The Players’ Tribune
“To be attracted to the imperfections of the world, I think, is to understand what it’s been through.”
Miriam Carey was shot at 26 times by law enforcement near the Capitol in 2013. Her sister contrasts her fate to the treatment of the Jan. 6 rioters. - David Montgomery, The Washington Post
“When incidents occur in Washington that people make parallels to Miriam, it just creates a great sense of anxiety and hurt and sadness, knowing that she wasn’t given consideration.”
Is a doctor the right prescription for Boston? - Marcela Garcia
There’s a lawmaker and emergency room physician at Boston Medical Center perfectly positioned to meet the current moment and run for mayor: Jon Santiago.
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