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Guest Feature: Reem Amin
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I had the opportunity to write a little something for Esquire Middle East about the artists from the Middle East, North Africa, and the diaspora that I’m most excited for in 2023.
It was hard to narrow this down to just a few artists, because truthfully I am excited to see what all of our artists are up to. Nonetheless, these artists deserve all the praise and support. I hope you check them out!
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Reem Amin!
Reem is a London based Iraqi photographer and director who experiments thematic photography in the realm of gore and cinematic horror. She frames the intention of her work as a plethora of surreal and polished worlds where she likes to utilise the concept of escapism in a way that challenges norms, her work explores the spectrum of instability through fictional characters.
Reem has photographed for designers LeMÁine and Saranya marrying elements of horror into fashion.
She’s photographed musician Ronavella, actors Zaqi Ismail, Simon Wan, Lavinia Giuran, models Riyam Salim, Lauren McConville, Alina Allison, Coryn Betts, the list extends every day. Alongside her photography she is also a writer, early 2022 she had joined forces with AZEEMA Magazine publishing an online story revolving around her Mesopotamian roots. You can find her photography published in Feroce Magazine, Elegant Magazine, Picton Magazine, Dreck Magazine and 17.23 Magazine.
What’s next to conquer for Reem? She has been working on her first short dark-comedy film ‘HORNY GIRL’ as a writer, director and producer. The premise follows a hopeless romantic navigating through the modern dating world however she doesn’t participate in the hook-up culture. Reem has started to venture out into more screen-writing roles.
SHEEEESH!!! What hasn’t Reem done, am I right? An incredibly talented photographer and producer, she shared some excellent song choices and meaningful stories behind each one:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
My favourite song at the moment is by NIIA called “Positano (Interlude)”, from the album “II: La Bella Vita”. It’s not much of a lyrical song as it’s an instrumental. There’s something so beautiful about an atmospheric and intimate moment with piano keys. I listen to film scores by Marco Beltrami when it comes time to thinking up my conceptual work, at the moment my spotlight is on anything by NIIA.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
My go-to song for all my feels… so I’d say it would be “Tender Surrender” by Steve Vai. The sound of a guitar wailing and crying does something to my heart. We’re going to go deep with “the feels” on this one, I strongly believe that Vai isn’t from this planet. What he’s capable of creating is unearthly, mind-meltingly stunning. He practically massages the notes out of the neck of his guitar, it makes me blush.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
A song that reminds me of home would have to be “Khuttar” by Ilham al-Madfai. I’m Iraqi, there are days where all my family does is play loud arabic music and cook up the most delicious Iraqi food like dolma and tepsi beitenjan. “Khuttar” is a song that will always be played at any family gathering, the introduction always gets the aunties arms up and ready for the hip swaying melody and the uncles ready to clap along with the beat. It’s a song thats very close to my heart, it will always remind me of home wherever I am in the world.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
A song I know all the words to.. right, so this part can easily turn into a playlist itself. I memorise lots of lyrics to lots of songs but at the moment the first one that pops into mind would be “Gravity” by John Mayer. I think the first time I heard this song I was 16? Possibly 17 and ever since then it’s been one of those songs where every lyric is embedded into my brain. I mean at one point I am getting the lyrics “keep me where the light is” tattooed onto the back of my shoulder.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
Anytime I hear “Nasty Girl” by The Notorious B.I.G. I get hyped and ready to go. Anything from the 90s era of hip hop and R&B is definitely the genre to get me up and dancing. Biggie Smalls, Fat Joe, Method Man, G-Unit, Dr. Dre, Tyrese, The Game, Pharoahe Monch, Warren G. The list goes on and on and on.
Big shout out to Reem for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Reem’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Make sure you follow her on Instagram and check out all of her amazing photography!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Flows 🎧
DOUBLEZUKSH - Marwan Moussa featuring Stormy
free me - anees
Ma Zanby - Nour Khan featuring Abdalla Elabd
Ykoun Li Ykoun - Chirin
Fada - LAÏ featuring Rafiek
Khayal - Zatara
DJ - Jaylann
Dandani - ZEUSAEED
Abn9 - Fodi
🎤 Latinx & Hispanic Vibes 🎤
Consuelo - Natalie Perez
KLK TE PASA A TI - Rosaly Rubio
Inexperto En Olvidarte - Alejandro Fernández
Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53 - Bizarrap featuring Shakira
Rodeo - Dan Cos
Whiskey y Coco - Justin Quiles featuring Myke Towers
Volver a Verte - Jota Taborda featuring Orquesta La Central
La Idea de Ti - Carolina en Llamas
Dátiles - ERRE TRES
Pobre Diabla - Lalezka
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Nobody Noticed It - Lisa Marie Presley
The Magic Number - De La Soul
Koma - Pawzz
Baby - Aya Nakamura
2022 - Ty Dolla $ign
Missing - Jimmy
Weekends - Freya Ridings
I’ve Been Saying This - SOMOH
Anisamehe - Marioo featuring Rayvanny
All We Know - Marvin Dolo
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Many Lebanese still forced to find medicines abroad despite ministry efforts to redress shortages - Zeina Antonios, L’Orient Today
For patients who need continuous treatment, one of the solutions is to buy their treatment in Turkey or elsewhere. Some medicines are still inaccessible, despite the measures put in place by the Health Ministry.
'People lose either way': Lebanon's government ends infant formula subsidy - Nada Homsi, The National
Baby milk subsidy is latest to go in economic crisis.
Environmental initiatives in Lebanon aim to solve crises in innovative ways - Mounir Kabalan, Raseef22
“The Lebanese people are seeking to innovate, propose solutions, and save their environment, their people, and their homeland from the clutches of deadly pollution.”
DJ Plead: Beat Connection - Safi Bugel, Cracked Magazine
“Being half [Lebanese], I never really felt like I fit in. But making this music has given me a bit more of that feeling. It’s a way to prove to myself that I am Lebanese”
Lebanon's opposition today: A story of perpetual crises - Karim Safieddine, The New Arab
Lebanon's anti-establishment movement grew as a reaction to numerous regime crises, but internal disputes, limited reach, and a lack of strategy continue to be obstacles to a sustainable political project.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Iraq’s moment in the football sun - Ahmed Twaji, Al Jazeera
After years of devastation, it feels good to see Iraq celebrated internationally – as the host of the Arabian Gulf Cup.
Death by stoning: Sudanese law continues to oppress women - Youssef Bashir, Raseef22
“This hostile legal environment, the non-criminalization of domestic violence, and the spread of a toxic culture of tolerance to harm — which mostly includes relatives mediating to resolve disputes amicably no matter how violent they may be — are perhaps what left 2.7 million women out of 22.5 million Sudanese in need of protection services from gender-based violence.”
Libyan politicians’ pay goes up 40% as election impasse continues - Patrick Wintour, The Guardian
UN special envoys to meet in Washington as figures show Libyan politicians’ salaries rose by more than 40% in 2022.
'Dangerous' Tunisian droughts threaten food security - Tarek Amara
and Jihed Abidellaoui, Reuters
Three years of drought have dried up Tunisian reservoirs, threatening harvests that are critical to the North African country's battered economy and pushing the government to raise tap water prices for homes and businesses.
Immigration offices lure Jordanians to elusive promised lands - Mostafa Zawati, Raseef22
“Jordanian procedures and legislation lack transparency and clarity in the accounting and monitoring of immigration and travel offices.”
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
DJ Sama’ Abdulhadi on techno and tenacity: ‘As a Palestinian you know life could be over in 10 minutes’ - Dhruva Balram, The Guardian
The dancefloor gave Abdulhadi freedom from the political pressures she faces as ‘a woman, an Arab and Palestinian’.
A rave of their own: Egypt's women DJs creating inclusive dance floors - Sofiane Alsaar, Agence France-Presse
In Egypt's patriarchal society, the music industry remains male-dominated, while the conservative country's cultural establishment marginalises and even bans electronic music artists. Now, a generation of young women DJs are forging their own path, seeking to create more inclusive spaces for performers and party-goers alike.
Arab designers stitch together uniforms for collective identity and fresh expression - Khelil Bouarrouj, The New Arab
After a long period of appropriation, Arab designers are reclaiming their status within the fashion industry. Spurred along by a youth increasingly conscious of style and vogue, the Arab world is entering an exciting period of self-expression.
Felukah, Arab-Futurist Songstress, Dreams Of Nature’s Feeling - Riley Van Steward, Forbes
“I'm not just going to do this for fun; this is my line of work. This is what I do for a living, and I care about it. It's my passion.”
What if you could buy wishes? An Egyptian fantasy comic does some wishful thinking - Malaka Gharib, NPR
Wishes are the theme of Egyptian comics artist and writer Deena Mohamed’s debut graphic fantasy novel, Shubeik Lubeik, Arabic for "your wish is my command," published this week by Pantheon Books.
📚 Other Reads 📚
Bidding a fond farewell to Eastbay, the sneakerhead's catalogue - Gus Contreras, NPR
In its heyday, Eastbay was the place to check out the latest sneakers and sports apparel.
The Crisis of Missing Migrants - Alexis Okeowo, The New Yorker
What has become of the tens of thousands of people who have disappeared on their way to Europe?
The Gambia’s slow path to justice and reconciliation - Maria Gerth-Niculescu, The New Humanitarian
‘Those perpetrators are still moving around.’
They Won Guantánamo’s Supreme Court Cases. Where Are They Now? - Carol Rosenberg, The New York Times
The three former Guantánamo prisoners who defeated George W. Bush at the Supreme Court in landmark cases are ensconced in family life. We caught up with two of them. One is a home-heating serviceman in central England; the other is an Uber driver in the French Riviera.
Switching to an electric car saves money. Unless you’re poor. - Lylla Younes, Grist
A new study says 90% of Americans would save by getting an EV.