Guest Feature: Nora Zeid
Thanks for reading Sa'alouni El Nas! If you haven’t already, please subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
My heart this week has been and continues to be with the people of Sudan, caught in the middle of the fighting and violence between the army and a paramilitary force. This is not a war that the Sudanese people want and not one in which they are involved. Yet they are the ones whose lives are most at risk because of what’s happening.
I wanted to share some space here this week for some stories about what’s happening in Sudan that I believe are worth everyone’s time:
In Sudan, a Deadly Reckoning for Rival Forces - Mat Nashed, New Lines Magazine
‘We saw corpses in the street:’ People flee Sudan’s capital as violence torments city - Rob Picheta, Mostafa Salem, Sahar Akbarzai, and CNN journalists in Sudan, CNN
When I call relatives in Sudan, I don’t know if they will still be alive. The world must not look away - Mohamed Osman, The Guardian
The humanitarian backdrop to Sudan’s unrest - Philip Kleinfeld, The New Humanitarian
'I am hearing anti-aircraft fire,' says a doctor in Sudan as he depicts medical crisis - Andrew Connelly, NPR
Trapped by fighting, Sudanese look for ways to survive - Sam Magdy, Associated Press
Keep Sudan and the Sudanese people in mind as you enter the weekend.
Thanks, friends. We do have an incredible guest this week and I’d like for you all to see this newsletter as a brief joyful escape. So let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Nora Zeid!
Nora is an award-winning independent illustrator and visual artist based in Dubai.
Her practice is both complex and inviting, seeking to spark conversations while including general audiences. She held her first solo exhibit entitled Cairo Illustrated: Stories from Heliopolis at Taskheel in Dubai in 2021, under their Critical Practice Program. Her second show titled Cairo Illustrated opened in Cairo in Fall of 2022. Her short comics have been published in Sharjah Art Foundation’s anthology Corniche. These include East of Home (2020) and Over the Bridge (2021). Some of her notable clients – past and present – are Google, Cadillac, Adidas, Kerning Cultures and VICE.
You have got to check out Nora’s beautiful work. I mean, she is incredibly talented with her artistry and design, visually telling compelling stories. On top of all of that, Nora is truly such a sweet and thoughtful human being with a witty personality (as exhibited on Twitter). So when she agreed to share some of her go-to music, I knew readers—and myself—would be in for a treat!
1. What is your favorite song right now?
“Rich Spirit” by Kendrick Lamar. There's something very grounding about this track. It's mellow but poignant, and a good wake-up call.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
“Iris” by Goo Good Dolls. When I was in my teens, 'Iris' was my go-to whenever I felt lonely, which was often since my family and I moved around a lot growing up. It's still one of my favorite songs.
“Own Appeal” by Oddisee. Whenever I feel I'm close to throwing in the towel, I always listen to 'Own Appeal'. It reinvigorates me and makes me feel on top of the world. I remember having it on repeat the day I quit my full-time job to pursue illustration. Besides, Oddisee is hands-down one of my favorite rappers.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
“Nature Boy” by Nat King Cole. My great-grandmother used to sing “Nature Boy” to my grandmother when she was a child. It reminds me of them. It's also one of the few songs I know by heart. The lyrics "The greatest thing, You'll ever learn / Is just to love, And be loved in return" are so simple and heartwarming.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
“Don't Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin. I actually have a hard time memorizing songs! But I know all the words to this one. I used to perform it back when I was in college, except I would switch out "the landlord say your rent is late" with "the prof say your assignment's late" to get a laugh out of the audience. I recently found out Bobby McFerrin sang it in acapella, which made me appreciate it even more.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
“Payday” by Doja Cat. I love kicking off my work week with this track. Doja's so colorful, and upbeat, her music puts me in a “get that bread” mood.
“Watermelon Man” by Mongo Santamaria. This version specifically – not the others – is one of my go-tos. It's virtually impossible to be blue while listening to it.
“Smooth” by Santana. My absolute favorite song, so I just had to add it. Also, a major mood booster.
Big shout out to Nora for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Nora’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Check out Nora on Instagram and Twitter and catch all of her works of art here!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Flows 🎧
Écoute Moi - Scridge & Cravata
Ramsis Paris - Sharmoofers featuring Perrie
ON MY WAY - Lana Lubany
3alash Khalani - Kemo
Ya Kahera - Muhab
ZIK - Massyl Aïta
Hedi Ya Bahr - Sanaa Moussa
Lw - Samar Tarik & El Waili
Egyptian Lover - Felukah
Clear The Way - YemeKnight
🎤 Latinx & Hispanic Vibes 🎤
Jamaica - Manuel Turizo featuring Beéle
Into The Night - Benny Mardones
Luna Llena - Elvis Crespo
un x100to - Grupo Frontera featuring Bad Bunny
Amargura - MAR MEJÍA
La Casita De La Selva - Vivir Quintana
Me Llora - Dalex
Dónde Estabas - Maka
qué le pasa conmigo? - Nicki Nicole featuring Rels B
tú y yo - Ariel & The Culture
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Heart of a Champion - Nelly featuring Lincoln University Vocal Ensemble
Double Fantasy - The Weeknd featuring Future
Hell and High Water - Chiiild featuring Alina Baraz and Caitlyn Scarlett
Guava Rose - June Freedom featuring Eva Ruiz
Everybody Everybody - Black Box
Let Them Know - Wande Coal
IYKYK - Alex Vaughn featuring Muni Long
Beggin’ - Chris Lake featuring Aluna
Tom’s Diner - Suzanne Vega
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
The toxic threat to journalism in Lebanon - Kevin Hirten, Al Jazeera
A story about a cover-up of toxic waste in Lebanon takes on a new light after the Beirut port explosion.
Lebanon’s parliament votes to postpone municipal elections - Kareem Chehayeb, Associated Press
Lebanon has been without a fully functioning government for nearly a year as Prime Minister Najib Mikati heads a caretaker Cabinet with limited functions. The country has also been in a severe economic crisis since late 2019, with three-quarters of the population now living in poverty.
The Rachid Karami International Fair Tripoli: The abandoned architectural excess of Lebanon's colonial past - Will Spiers, The New Arab
In Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli lies the modernist architectural ruin of the Rachid Karami International Fair. A relic of Lebanon's colonial past, the fair offered a utopic dream but now stands as a harsh reminder of Lebanon's failings.
For the first time, crystal meth and Captagon are on the docket at Lebanon’s drug detox programs - Zeina Antonios, L’Orient Today
The economic crisis has led to the emergence of cheaper, locally-made narcotics. Now, detox centers are struggling with a surge in patients seeking treatment for addiction.
“Marjaa: The Battle of the Hotels” Explores a Forgotten Piece of Beirut’s History - Christina Hazboun, Bandcamp
On “The Battle of the Hotels”, singer-songwriter Mayssa Jallad documents one battle of the civil war, creating a musical work that serves as both a historical document and a musical map.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Rebelling against time in Cairo - Amy Fallas, Mada Masr
“In Cairo, I am always waiting. I wait through, and for, mundane and extraordinary things.”
Tunisia Leader Vows ‘Relentless War’ After Top Opponent Detained - Souhail Karam, Bloomberg
Tunisia’s president vowed a “relentless war” against those he claimed were damaging the country, signaling a possible escalation in the crackdown against opponents shortly after the detention of his most vocal critic.
The tragic fate of Iraq's orphans upon hitting 18 - Baneen Elias, Raseef22
“When they turn 18, orphans in Iraq are sent out onto the streets. The lucky ones find jobs and integrate into society, while others are picked up by organized gangs that exploit their conditions and use them in sex trafficking, begging and even terrorism.”
For many Muslims and Arab Americans, Yemeni coffee shop Qahwah House feels like home - Nada Shalash, The New Arab
The first to popularise the drink and master the art of its brewing, Yemeni coffee is globally renowned. With branches across the US, one Yemeni coffee house is ensuring this communal tradition remains.
Life in Syria under U.S. sanctions - Aya Batrawy, NPR
Earthquakes in Syria exposed the devastating needs of people in the country and raised questions about the impact of U.S. sanctions.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Book by book — building a new home for Arabic literature in London - Saman Javed, hyphen.
The number of independent booksellers in the UK has nearly halved in the past 30 years. A new startup hopes to reverse the decline.
Live Music Is Roaring Back. But Fans Are Reeling From Sticker Shock. - Ben Sisario, The New York Times
Buying concert tickets has become a mess of high prices and surcharges, anxiety-inducing registrations and pervasive scalping as some of pop’s biggest acts hit the road again.
Love, revolution and home: The electrifying works of Tunisian star Badiaa Bouhrizi - Christina Hazboun, The New Arab
Ever-evolving, Badiaa Bouhrizi waits for no industry to catch her artistry. A graceful encapsulation of the Tunisian spirit, Badiaa's taste, musical expression and devotion to the craft has made the singer revered throughout the region.
‘Nobody Can Take Your Power’: Megan Thee Stallion in Her Own Words - Megan Thee Stallion, Elle
Megan Thee Stallion assumed she would be believed. But after coming forward about her shooting by fellow rapper and onetime friend Tory Lanez after a Los Angeles party in July 2020, she faced vitriol from gossip blogs, online strangers, and even peers. Here, for the first and only time since her assailant’s guilty verdict on three felony counts, she talks about moving past what happened.
AI-Generated Music Is About to Flood Streaming Platforms - Amanda Hoover, WIRED
There are already countless songs on Spotify, Apple Music, and SoundCloud. And as tunes become easier to create, anyone can add to the copyright din.
📚 Other Reads 📚
On Fusion, Forced Migration, and Somali Food - Ifrah F. Ahmed, Eater
How Somali food in the diaspora holds the history of forced migration.
Your Email Does Not Constitute My Emergency - Adam Grant, The New York Times
Apologizing for slow replies is a symptom of unrealistic demands in an always-on culture.
The Unbearable Costs of Becoming a Writer - Nicole Chung, Esquire
After years of hard work and low pay, the risks I took to work in publishing are finally paying off. But now, I wonder about the price my family paid, and whether it was too steep.
AI could cause a mass-extinction of languages — and ways of thinking - Viorica Marian, The Washington Post
The most powerful models will be those trained on about 20 “high-resource languages” such as English, Mandarin, Russian, German and Japanese. In turn, AI will churn out massive amounts of new text mostly in those languages. Like invasive species, such dominant models could drive out languages for which fewer resources exist for training.
Welcome to My Crib. It’s Rented. And It’s a Moneymaker. - Victoria M. Walker, The New York Times
Though they don’t own their apartments, some renters are investing in the décor and design of their units to display on social media and are getting paid to do it.