Discover more from Sa'alouni El Nas
Guest Feature: Swara Salih
Happy new year, everyone! We’re back in 2022 after a two-week break. And we have a lot to catch up on!
Many of the stories below are a combination of newer ones from this week and some that I read during the break time. I hope you take the time to read them.
I sincerely hope that 2022 is a lighter and easier year on all of you. World circumstances seem to have other plans already, but at least in your own lives with what you are able to control I hope there is greater tranquility, happiness, success, and all that!
And don’t worry, the playlists will continue to be 🔥🔥🔥
With that, let’s get into it. I am so excited to introduce our first guest feature of 2022: Swara Salih!
Swara is a data scientist, podcaster, and pop-culture writer based in the Washington DC area. He talks a lot of politics, environmentalism, and nerdy stuff. He co-hosts "The Middle Geeks" Podcast which reviews and analyzes film and media from a SWANA/MENA perspective, and "Into the Spider-Cast" which covers all Spider-Verse stories in all media. He also writes reviews and interviews for But Why Tho? and The Nerds of Color.
Anytime I want to get some insight into movies, TV shows, any kind of media, I go to Swara. He shares incredible and nuanced perspectives on Twitter and “The Middle Geeks” always has dope interviews too. More importantly, Swara is one of the kindest and most thoughtful people you will ever interact with. Ask him about his views on DC Comics!
1. What is your favorite song right now?
"Whateva U Need" by Grimm Lynn is a song I've recently found that I really like. It's a song about being there for those you love in whatever capacity you can be, and that's definitely something we all need right now. I also love the relaxed and beat and rhythm, and that overall style of chill R&B.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
My answer has to "Memories" by Thutmose from the “Into The Spider-Verse” album. It's a lyrical reflection on past relationships that have gone awry and gives a cathartic release on all the baggage from those relationships that we inevitably carry around. I think it's really smartly composed and poignant.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
"Home" will ultimately be wherever my parents or other family are, and the Kurdish music they play is a constant reminder of that. There are too many songs to name, but one that sticks out in my memory as one my parents would play over and over again is "Azizm to Gulakami" (which means "My dear, You are my Flower" in Kurdish) by Kamkaran. It's basically a love song, with the singer expressing his excitement at seeing his beloved. The riffs with the daf drum and tanbur and other stringed instruments have this one really stick out, highlighting the excitement of being in love. Another song along these lines is “Gul Nishan” also by Kamkaran.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
When I was in high school and college I was a bit obsessed with Coldplay and still remember the lyrics to a lot of their songs, particularly my favorite of theirs, "Speed of Sound."
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
I love "Unstoppable" by Lianne La Havas. It has a great balance of building excitement and keeping a sense of calm throughout if that makes sense. The references to space are really cool.
Big shout out to Swara for joining and sharing his song selections! Most of Swara’s songs are on Spotify and will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. And please, give Swara a follow on Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to “The Middle Geeks” immediately!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Flows by Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Artists 🎧
Enta Habibi Yala - Double Zuksh
Fini - DYSTINCT
Legacy - Dareen featuring Rashed Muzik
Dowara - Lbenj
Latina - Sharmoofers
El Tet - G. Oka
Evil Thoughts - Almas
Fasla - Swani
The Calling - Rhita Nattah
El Radio - Bahjat featuring Amal Maghrabi
🎤 Vibes by Latinx & Hispanic Artists 🎤
Que Locura - Ovi featuring Gente De Zona
Cometa - Katia Morales
Si La Pillo - Luar La L featuring The Secret Panda
Ohh Mama - Leslie Guzmán
Eucalipto - Mario Puglia
La Habanera - Leon Leiden
Singamo - Tokischa featuring Paulus Music and Yomel El Meloso
El Huracán - Nina Dioz
Formentera - Aitana featuring Nicki Nicole
ANGELITO - Ana Mancebo featuring ADRIAN
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Out of Time - The Weeknd
Own True Lover - melan
the catch up - Ambré
Chatta Chatta - Lavida Loca
Gravity - Brent Faiyaz featuring DJ Dahi and Tyler, The Creator
Chitty Bang - Leikeli47
Moody - Brijean
Promises - Cleo Soul
The Dress - Dijon
People disappear here - Halsey
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
How did local NGOs handle tens of millions in private donations after the Beirut explosion? - Marie Jo Sader, L’Orient Today
Amid ambiguity, a lack of statistics and low transparency requirements on the part of donors, it is almost impossible to estimate the amount of donated money sent to Lebanon in the aftermath of the 2020 Beirut port explosion. This article, however, investigates how NGOs made use of these funds.
Beirut feels both familiar and utterly foreign.
Blackouts, financial meltdowns and a petrol crisis - the year Lebanon unravelled - Maya Gebeily, Thomson Reuters Foundation News
In 2021, Lebanon’s financial meltdown turned two – and we learned what it means to see a country come undone.
Lebanon’s Abusive Kafala (Sponsorship) System - Aya Majzoub, Human Rights Watch
Tens of thousands of workers trapped in highly abusive conditions.
Silencing Dissent - Dana Hourany, NOW Lebanon
Several journalists as well as political and human rights activists have been in recent months summoned for interrogation by security forces after expressing criticism and human rights advocates say this has a bleak effect on freedom of expression in Lebanon.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Sudan Braces for ‘the Worst’ after Prime Minister Resigns - Abdi Latif Dahir, The New York Times
With the departure of the civilian prime minister Abdalla Hamdok on Sunday, the military and security forces are now fully in control of Sudan again.
Gone but not forgotten: Syria's missing persons - BBC’s The Documentary
Wafa Mustafa hasn't heard from her dad since he went missing in July 2013. She, like tens of thousands of others in her position, believes he is being detained by the Syrian government, and is searching for him. In this documentary, she explains how she uses the story of his life to campaign for justice in Syria, and how keeping the memory of her father alive is an act of protest and resistance.
Newcastle’s Soccer Strife - Kieron Monks, New Lines Magazine
Yemenis in Newcastle struggle to square their love for their team with the club’s new Saudi owners, with some hoping the investment will regenerate their city.
Iraq’s Great Thirst: Farmers quit as climate change and politics dry up a once-fertile land - Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times
The country — fed not by one but two mighty rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates — is thought to be where humans first started cultivation: Mesopotamia, the land of plenty. But another year of crippling drought and of competition with equally parched neighbors means there isn’t enough water to go around.
Desmond Tutu's solidarity with Palestine is a legacy that can never be erased - Robert Inlakesh, The New Arab
No matter how much some in the West want to erase part of his enormous body of work on fighting for human rights, it will never be forgotten that Desmond Tutu was a staunch ally of the Palestinian people, writes Robert Inlakesh.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
How the vulgarity of mahraganat taught me to accept my Egyptianess - Joseph Fahim, Middle East Eye
With its unfiltered lyrics paying homage to the lives of Egypt’s poor, the genre undermines middle-class fixations with a traditional image of society.
Reggaeton and Electronic Music Have a Long History. 2021 Revived It. - Isabelia Herrera, The New York Times
A host of fusions between the two genres arrived this year, with implications for both the underground and the mainstream.
Legacy, Okay?! For Black musicians, 'Insecure' created a new world of possibilities - Sidney Madden, Bobby Carter, and Aisha Harris, NPR
Whether the characters of HBO's Insecure are flourishing, floundering or lighting a joint in order to forget, emerging artists are the ones they play on shuffle.
The Sly Sunniness of Betty White - Megan Garber, The Atlantic
The actor and producer and host, who died at 99, spent eight decades poking fun at those who would underestimate her.
Yallah, brudi: How Arabic and Turkish took over German hip-hop - Matt Unicomb, Middle East Eye
The slang of Germany’s youth is being shaped by rappers who grew up speaking Middle Eastern languages at home.
📚 Other Reads 📚
As Jan. 6 anniversary approaches, fear, disbelief and anger still felt in Capitol Hill neighborhood - Joe Heim, The Washington Post
A year later there is still fear, disbelief and anger at what the rioters wrought.
How We Make Sense of Time - Elizabeth Dias, The New York Times
January 2022 arrives as our methods of keeping time feel like they are breaking. Calendar pages turn, yet time feels lost. In this year of all years, what does it mean for a year to be new?
COVID stole the heart of my family. It also divided it - Brittny Mejia, Los Angeles Times
“For many, COVID-19 is what forced them to stay home and wear a mask to keep others safe — the virus existing largely in the abstract. For me, it’s what came to define these last two years, personally and professionally.”
Focus on ‘Greenwashing’ Claims in New Year of Climate Litigation - Jennifer Hijazi, Bloomberg Law
While U.S. climate liability cases inch forward in procedural battles, experts are watching the horizon for novel “greenwashing” and human rights claims to expand the climate litigation landscape in 2022.
Jamaican asylum seekers in Tijuana facing racism, homophobia while they wait - Kate Morrissey, The San Diego Union-Tribune
One couple said they have been harassed and not allowed into some local businesses