Discover more from Sa'alouni El Nas
Guest Feature: Nada Bakri
Thanks for reading Sa'alouni El Nas! If you haven’t already, subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Before we get started, I want to highlight this interactive and immersive story done by my good friends at The New Humanitarian.
They put together an incredible project that tells the story of Lebanon’s collapse through the WhatsApp messages of five people — Afaf, Bassel, Mohamad, Roger, and Roza — and their conversations with friends, family, and loved ones since October 2019.
Some of these events and numbers have made the news, but this timeline – and this story – is about the people behind those headlines and statistics.
Sometimes they WhatsApped as the country where they live shifted in an instant, like during the Beirut blast, and sometimes they sent voice notes late at night, wondering when the electricity would come back on.
The New Humanitarian collaborated with renowned Lebanese artist Rafik El Hariri (not the former prime minister, obviously) on illustrations that depict the events being described in the WhatsApp messages and the people sending them.
Lebanon’s collapse isn’t just something for political theorists and politicians to opine upon. It’s real, and it’s actually affecting people — including many of you reading this — every single day.
This story hits home in many ways.
If there’s anything you read from the newsletter this week, please make it this. Check it out here.
Big shout out to Annie Slemrod and Zainab Chamoun who both really put a lot of thought and care into this project and humanized the story of Lebanon through the stories of Afaf, Bassel, Mohamad, Roger, and Roza.
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Nada Bakri!
Nada is a Lebanese journalist who covered the Middle East for more than a decade for newspapers including The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Daily Star, an English-speaking daily published in Beirut.
Bakri was based in Beirut and Baghdad throughout her career. She covered the 2006 July war between Israel and Hezbollah, violence in Iraq, and the Arab spring. Bakri also writes personal essays that regularly appear in major publications. She contributed to a book called “Our Women on the Ground” about her experience as a journalist working in the Middle East.
Bakri graduated from the Lebanese American University with a BA in journalism and received an MS from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. She currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her son.
This is a massive, massive honor to have Nada Bakri, who is an incredibly courageous journalist and storyteller. Nada truly is an icon in the industry and in our community — she, along with her late husband Anthony Shadid, are trailblazers in the ways media tell stories about the Middle East and North Africa and the communities in the region. If you haven’t yet read “Our Women on the Ground” I highly recommend you go and read it immediately, particularly Nada’s contribution to the book.
Clearly, I am incredibly excited that Nada graciously agreed to share some of her go-to music:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
I run and I like to have different playlists for different seasons and different moods, etc… the playlist I am listening to right now has a song called “Superwoman” by Alicia Keys; I put it on repeat for the first 15 minutes or so.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
“Yesterday” by The Beatles. I know it sounds sad but it reminds reminds me of those I love and lost, like my father and my husband and I like to remember them when I am happy and when I am sad.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
Anything Fairouz; it is really hard to choose. My mother had Fairouz on every morning while we were growing up, so to me nothing says home more than her voice and songs. I especially love “Ya Dara Douri Fina” and when I listen to it I feel very nostalgic and find myself reminiscing about my childhood and home. I love this line: “the person who called people to grow up, left without calling us.”
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
“Ironic” by Alanis Morrissette. This song came out when I was a teenager and I felt like it described life/the world so accurately from a 15-year-old point of view; I loved to play it in the car and sing along.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
“Music” by Madonna still gets me going all these years later, I can still dance to it like it is 2000 and I am in a night club in Beirut.
Or “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, a song that never gets old.
Big shout out to Nada for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Nada’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. And please, follow Nada on Twitter and go read “Our Women on the Ground” right now!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Flows 🎧
Come Find Me - Adam Nabeel
SOLD - Lana Lubany
Old Flame - Rhita Nattah
Msh Khalsa - Wegz featuring ElGrandeToto
Wayih - Oualid featuring Liamsi
Ajiyi - Iguidr featuring Flomine and Hassan Azenzar
Aman - Nayomi
SHARQEYA LULLABIES - Bayou
Habsha - Soulja featuring Flippter
Sghar El Balad - 47SOUL
🎤 Latinx & Hispanic Vibes 🎤
Hate to see it - DaniLeigh
Sin Señal - Quevedo
Al Azar - Letón Pé featuring Piek and Irepelusa
Tuki Trake - Sharik
Plutón - CNCO featuring Kenia OS
Mírame - Anmily Brown
Mata Sede - La Dame Blanche featuring Amanda Magalhães
Llanto de Luna - Omara Portuondo
DESPECHÁ - ROSALÍA
LOKERA - Rauw Alejandro featuring Lyanno and Brray
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
COZY - Beyoncé
FAR AWAY - Gyakie
Doja - Central Cee
Nowhere To Hide - Aluna featuring Prettyboy D-O and Kooldrink
A Dream - Xavier Omär featuring pat junior
Mon amour - Stromae featuring Camila Cabello
YA NO PODÍA SALIR - BLK ODYSSY
Bang My Line - Cosmo’s Midnight featuring Tkay Maidza
Show Me - Joey Bada$$
Thug Affection - ShaSimone
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
As Lebanese staple runs short, tempers flare at bakeries - Issam Abdallah
and Laila Bassam, Reuters
With many Lebanese already struggling to get by in a devastating economic meltdown, shortages of state-subsidized bread have compounded hardship and prompted numerous brawls at bakeries.
Beirut port silos at risk of collapse as fire burns unabated - Jamie Prentis, The National
Residents told to wear a mask and shut their windows if the silos come crashing down.
Port Explosion Investigation Saps Lebanese Trust in Courts - Jay Loschky, Gallup
As the investigation into the Beirut port explosion continues to be stonewalled by lawsuits and protests from influential senior politicians, only 16% of Lebanese expressed confidence in their judicial system in 2021. This percentage is an all-time low in Lebanon.
Lebanon's cancer patients 'desperately chasing medication' as financial crisis hits subsidies - Adam Chamseddine, Middle East Eye
Amid one of the world's highest cancer rates, a cut in subsidies for medication has hit patients in Lebanon hard.
Tragic boat sinking: What we know three months later - Marie Jo Sader, L’Orient Le Jour
Still no responsibility has been established by the military court for the sinking of the boat on April 24, which caused the deaths of 40 people, mostly women and children. L’Orient-Le Jour looks into the circumstances of the tragedy by comparing the versions reported by the various parties involved.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
From the Colts' stadium to the Statehouse, Indianapolis has a rich Arab American history - Rashika Jaipuriar, The Indianapolis Star
“People like me have been part of this place for so long,. By imagining us, by writing us into the history of this place, it certainly makes me feel more at home here.”
Doxxing: a new tool of repression against Arab women - Menna A. Farouk, Thomson Reuters Foundation News
Rights campaigners say more must be done to protect women from online abuse and harassment.
Tunisia’s constitutional referendum represents a dark day for democracy - Monica Marks, The Washington Post
“We could be witnessing the end of the Arab world’s most promising experiment in democratic governance.”
Orlando Magic Hire Ameer Bahhur As Head Video Coordinator - Nader Ihmoud, Palestine in America
Three months after being hired by the Magic and a little more than a week following his first NBA Summer League, Bahhur joined Palestine in America’s podcast to discuss his journey to the NBA, his working relationship with Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley, and whether he prefers Maklouba or Mensef.
Iraqi protesters break into parliament denouncing the nomination of new premier - Hamdi Alkhshali and Aqeel Najim, CNN
Hundreds of angry protesters loyal to the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr broke into Baghdad's heavily protected Green Zone on Wednesday, denouncing the nomination of a new prime minister.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Catching a vibe: Nadine El Roubi's artistry is as elegant as it is enigmatic - Danny Hajjar, The New Arab
Driven by creative eccentricity, Nadine El Roubi's soulful offerings have gone some way to capture the newly playful, innovative and off-kilter nature of the Arabic hip-hop scene. (And yes, I got to interview her and it was so cool)
Can Arabic-language pop conquer America? A Tarzana ingénue and her power manager say ‘inshallah’ - Amos Barshad, Los Angeles Times
From Timbaland to Sting to the next rapper to say inshallah, Arab culture has been a persistent influence on American music. But songs actually in Arabic have never been a presence on the charts.
Anees wants to bring everyone back to summer camp for his debut tour - Zainab Mudallal, The Washington Post
The Arab American artist is known for his genre-defying, uplifting sound and mood-lifting, soulful lyrics about love and self-care — a breath of fresh air in a world that can be hard on us.
Building On the Legacy of Panamanian Romantic Style, Boza Is One to Watch - Katelina Eccleston, Remezcla
Humberto Ceballos, popularly known as Boza, has been crafting his individuality and artistic innovation while making serial attempts at joining the legacy of Panama’s romantic style.
We need to talk about the music industry’s open secrets - Emma Garland, Suyin Haynes, Tara Joshi and Zing Tsjeng, gal-dem
A new series from gal-dem and VICE calls for change in an industry that has swept sexual misconduct under the rug for too long.
📚 Other Reads 📚
Living Through India’s Next-Level Heat Wave - Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker
In hospitals, in schools, and on the streets, high temperatures have transformed routines and made daylight dangerous.
Pregnancy, parenthood, and prison: the right to choose where autonomy is elusive - Tamar Sarai, Prism
Pregnant incarcerated people have been navigating abortion restrictions long before Roe’s reversal.
How a Visual Language Evolves as Our World Does - Amanda Morris, The New York Times
Ubiquitous video technology and social media have given deaf people a new way to communicate. They’re using it to transform American Sign Language.
The hybrid wardrobe has replaced business casual, as workers bring resortwear and sneakers to the office - Hillary Hoffower, Fortune
“Gone are the days of two separate wardrobes or even three separate wardrobes.”
The Extremely '90s History of the Flavored Latte - Maggie Hennessy, Food52
Hint: Starbucks is only part of the answer.