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Guest Feature: Layla Maghribi
I want to take a very brief moment to express some semblance of relief that activist Loujain al-Hathloul was released from Saudi prison on Wednesday after being held for 1001 days.
Loujain is one of Saudi’s most prominent women’s rights campaigners and champions, particularly leading the charge against the sexist law that banned women from driving in the country (that law has since been repealed). Loujain has been in prison since May 2018, and human rights groups and Loujain’s family have said that she was subject to abuse, torture, and sexual assault during that time.
Her sisters, Lina and Alia, really spearheaded the global effort to get Loujain out, and while Loujain is no longer unjustly held by the Saudi government the charges against her remain. There is still more work that needs to be done to get the charges dropped and to hold her abusers accountable.
We have so much to get into this week. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Layla Maghribi!
Layla is a British-Arab writer and international journalist who was based in the Middle East for several years working for Reuters and CNN before returning to her hometown in London. She is currently a senior correspondent at The National, one of the Middle East’s leading English-language news sites, in their London bureau and writes about people and issues within the Arab and Muslim communities across Europe.
Layla is an incredibly thoughtful reporter and human being. When she shared her answers with me, she completely opened me up to a bunch of cool artists:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
I've just been writing a feature on Ameen Khayar, one half of the Syrian-German band, Shkoon, so i've been listening to their songs more than usual the past few days. I love them all but their song “LaLa” always gives me chills, and “F**ed up Two” is another of their great tunes.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
A friend put on “El Zekra Part 1” by Salamat for me a few months and I was instantly transported on an ethereal magic carpet to a place I felt I missed. It felt like a call back to land, to a home that has been lost. It's sorrowful and longing and I think anyone from the Arab world has such feelings these days when it comes to our 'homes' there. Shkoon's folkloric 'mawwals' also have that flavour to them and their song “Ramallah” always feels like a rallying cry for the Middle Eastern “home”.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
Even though I haven't listened to them in a while I'm going to have to dip back into my teenage years here when my love for R&B was at its strongest and admit that I could sing along to practically all the songs in Craig David's “Born to Do It” album. I'm pretty sure I still can...met this girl on Monday...(what am I talking about, ain't no-one meeting anyone these days!)
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
I'm going to give a few here because goodness knows we need all the help we can get these days: So “Ultimatum” by Disclosure is a great one to get hyped up to. “Canoa” by DJ Gregory is also great if you want to get into a quick party mood. “Only You” by Steve Monite is also a vibe. If those doing the trick then 90s garage tunes have a special magic to getting your feet kicking. Khruanghbin's “You & I” is also a tune!
Big shout out to Layla for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Layla’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. And follow Layla on Twitter to stay updated on her new stories!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Arab Flows (Middle Eastern & North African artists) 🎧
Mahragan Estnglina - G. Oka
Ashwaq - Diana Haddad
DON’T DO THAT - Koast
Battalna - El Sawareekh
Khayal - DaMoJaNad
Arabiato - Simo Lagnawi
El Tabour - Lara Scandar
Agans - Shehab
Zolly - MaMan
Ostaz Tamtheel - Rana Samaha
🎤 Las Vibras (Latinx & Hispanic artists) 🎤
Ticket De Salida - Chiquis featuring Amandititita
Tata - Eladio Carron featuring J Balvin
Fingías - Paloma Mami
Cuándo Será - Mora featuring Lunay
Colocao - Nicki Nicole
Reggaeton De Antes - Ecko featuring Mariah Angeliq
La Luna de Noviembre - Mexican Institute of Sound
Flow Lavoe - Nino Augustine
Cosita Linda - JENCARLOS featuring Pitbull
Ámame - Selena
🎼 Other Music 🎼
What It Feels Like - Nipsey Hussle featuring Jay-Z
Recap - Kito featuring VanJess and Channel Tres
Unusual You - Britney Spears
The Zone - The Weeknd featuring Drake
Access Denied - Lucky Daye featuring Ari Lennox
If - Janet Jackson
Time - Black Coffee featuring Cassie
Bang Bang - Rita Ora and Imanbek
Siberia - Headie One featuring Burna Boy
Angry Hearts - Charlie Heat featuring Yuna
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
In 2020, Lebanon was spiraling. 6 months after the Beirut blast, half of the country lives below the poverty line and the health sector is crumbling. - Azmi Haroum and Kareem Chehayeb, Business Insider
"We lost everything we had and have nothing else to lose," blast victim Mehieddine Lazkani said.
Lebanese group gives a home away from home to health workers - Fay Abuelgasim, Associated Press
Baytna Baytak, with 110 staffers, launched at the start of the pandemic with a very different initiative: Finding a home away from home for front-line workers who were worried about exposing their families to the virus. During Lebanon’s first lockdown in March, they housed 750 front-line workers in various apartments.
‘We open, people die; we close, people die.’ COVID surge leaves Lebanon with no good options - Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times
Lebanon’s medical system is buckling under a post-holiday COVID-19 surge that has killed almost as many people in January alone as died from the disease all last year.
Eviction has become an all too familiar scenario in refugee and migrant worker communities - Emily Lewis, L’Orient Today
While almost no one has escaped Lebanon’s crushing economic and financial crisis, these groups have suffered disproportionately, as they often have limited access to stable employment or depend on daily earnings.
Andrew Makadsi Went From Lebanon To The World, Reshaping Pop Culture Along The Way - Rand El-Hadethi, GQ Middle East
The creative director speaks Beirut, Beyoncé, and the in-between.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Saudi Arabia’s Houses of Horror for Disobedient Women - Ola Salem, Newlines Magazine
How the threat of the kingdom’s “Homes of Care” is causing women to flee abroad.
The range of Arab stories seen in mainstream media remains narrow — and it's time to give them a greater voice.
American stranded in Gaza accuses U.S. of abandoning family - Alexander Smith, NBC News
"You feel deeply humiliated and you feel treated, as a Palestinian American, like you don't really matter," Hani Almadhoun told NBC News.
Arab Female Directors are Shifting Narratives in Arab Cinema - Janine Al Hadidi, Azeema
“The real-life stories and experiences of women reflected on screen evokes a common memory amongst Arab woman that is both poignant and powerful.”
Yemen’s COVID Cover-Up - Nawal al-Maghafi, PBS NewsHour
Yemeni journalist Nawal al-Maghafi returns to her home country to investigate how the coronavirus pandemic has deepened what has been called the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Radio is Not Dead: London-Based DJ Nooriyah On Championing Arab Music in the UK - Yasmeen, SceneNoise
In an age dominated by social media and streaming, Nooriyah hasn’t given up on radio - a medium that has not only provided her with the freedom to promote Arab music in the UK, but helped facilitate her own music-making ambitions.
Mustafa Is Realising His Purpose - Andrew Nagy, GQ Middle East
A poet-turned-singer-songwriter, Mustafa has spent years honoring the struggles that formed him. Now he’s ready to release his first solo project… and it might just save his life.
Who is responsible for what happened to Britney Spears? - Constance Grady, Vox
We’re all complicit in what happened to Britney. But some of us more so than others.
The Adoration of Christopher Plummer - Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture
The actor, a star of The Sound of Music, was a calibrator, a team player. It’s why everyone wanted to work with him.
For Black People Trying To Make It In Entertainment, Clubhouse Is The Place To Be - Michael Blackmon, BuzzFeed News
The audio-based app has become popular with the Black entertainment industry — for better and for worse.
📚 Other Reads 📚
Stories of Slavery, From Those Who Survived It - Clint Smith, The Atlantic
The Federal Writers’ Project narratives provide an all-too-rare link to our past.
Covid fueled anti-Asian racism. Now elderly Asian Americans are being attacked. - Jada Chin, The Washington Post
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced the creation of a special response unit to investigate crimes against Asian Americans, especially the elderly. The Bay Area has seen a rash of such incidents.
The Vaccine Had to Be Used. He Used It. He Was Fired. - Dan Barry, The New York Times
Ten doses of the COVID-19 vaccine would expire within hours, so a Houston doctor gave it to people with medical conditions, including his wife. What followed was “the lowest moment in my life,” Dr. Hasan Gokal said.
Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird Are Goals - Emma Carmichael, GQ
Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe both had Hall of Fame–worthy careers before they met. But to reach new, boundary-obliterating levels of achievement on and off the field, they needed each other. And their work is just getting started.
Once a Viral Sensation, Boston's Jamad Fiin Inspires Youth One Layup at a Time - Mia Len, NBC 10 Boston
Fiin has changed the game, both literally and figuratively, for many young athletes, including Muslim girls.
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