Discover more from Sa'alouni El Nas
Guest Feature: Yasmin Meleis
As you’re scrolling, you may notice a lack of stories about Will Smith, Chris Rock, and Jada Pinkett Smith this week. This is not to say that I didn’t read any takes or essays about it — I’m sure you all have too. At this point, though, I think we’ve all either read all of the content we can or we’ve gotten very tired of all of the takes — or both! I wanted to explain that up front for everyone and say there are other cool stories in that section this week!
In other news, today is the start of Arab Heritage Month! What does it mean to be Arab? What is Arab heritage, exactly? Why do we celebrate this month at all? I think different people in the community will have different answers for these questions. For me, I want to make sure we celebrate our cultural differences and nuances, and find ways that we can come together to celebrate those as part of our story. It’s also about shedding light on the fraught parts of our history (and our present), and learning to grow and acknowledge those pieces so that we can be much more inclusive in meaningful, tangible ways. It’s a journey toward recognition not only of our identities but of the different chapters of our stories.
What I will try (emphasis on try) to do this month, in addition to continuing to highlight incredible guests, is take space out of this top section here and give a shout out to organizations, movements, etc., that I admire and are essential to that fabric of our representation.
Hope you all enjoy the content this month!
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Yasmin Meleis!
Yasmin is an Egyptian-American, born and raised in NJ. She grew up visiting Egypt every summer, spending time with family in Alexandria, Cairo, and Sahel. She currently works at Twitter as a Partnerships Manager of US News on the Global Content Partnerships team. She is responsible for managing and developing strategic partnerships with News organizations to help monetize their premium content and provide best practices utilizing Twitter’s products to increase reach and engagement.
She is also the Events Chair for Twitter Arabs, a global Business Resource Group that recognizes, represents, and celebrates the diverse past, present, and future of Arab Tweeps while bringing increased awareness around the world. As the events chair she has organized a range of events including a Q&A with a filmmaker, a cooking session with a chef, a calligraphy class, and bringing employees together to meet and share their stories and experiences.
Yasmin has an incredible role, y’all. Can you imagine basically monitoring Arab Twitter all day, with how ridiculous we can get?! I joke, of course. In all seriousness, Yasmin’s kindness and empathy shines through her presence on the platform, and her go-to songs emulate her love for Egyptian music:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
It's so tough to pick favorites but right now I can't stop listening to “Maktoub Aleina” by Hamid Al Shaeri. When Habibi Funk recently released this, I was instantly hooked and started playing it on repeat. It's just such a fun song to listen to.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
“Ana Lak Ala Toul” by Abdel Halim Hafez. I've always loved Abdel Halim and his songs are just so romantic and classic. My fiancé and I talk about this as one of our top songs for our first dance.
Another one that I get that same feeling for is “Bahlam Maak” by Najat Al Saghira.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
“Enta Omry” by Umm Kulthum, it's such a classic. We'd queue it up in the car and I remember hearing it being played in Alexandria when I'd visit my family every summer.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
“Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac and “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen because they are my go to classic karaoke songs. Also “Ayonha” by Hamid Al Shaeri, I've played that song so many times I can't help but sing along to it when it starts playing.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
There are so many! “Be Your Girl” by Teedra Moses and Kaytranada, and “The Weekend (Funk Wav Remix)” by SZA and Calvin Harris — these two have always been my go-to's. I also love early 2000s classics, like “Aayshalak” by Elissa and “Khaleena Neshofek” by Amr Diab.
Big shout out to Yasmin for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Yasmin’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. And please go follow Yasmin on Twitter and keep up with her and all of the incredible work she does for our community on the platform!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Flows by Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Artists 🎧
Zahir - Carmeline featuring Leone
RIP, Love - Faouzia
Don’t Call Me Maria - Almas
King Alhalaba - Omar Dafencii featuring Khayyat
Magic - kouz1
Borderline - Khtek
Dkhol So9 Rassek - Rita L’Oujdia
Ethammili - Almwaya
Parisien Du Nord - Wafa Oudjit
Ma Route - MedusaTN
🎤 Vibes by Latinx & Hispanic Artists 🎤
Fronteo - Aiona Santana
Lavender & Red Roses - Ibeyi featuring Jorja Smith
Discoteca Party - Amenazzy featuring El Cherry Scom and Leo RD
Buenos Amigos - Leah Dibut featuring Lenier
Dharma - Sebastian Yatra featuring Jorge Celedón and Rosario
Liki Tiki - Michael Brun featuring Kes and J Perry
Tu Y Yo - Prznt featuring NOGXNRE
idk - eydrey
Lo Conoces - Goyo
La Partiste Con Tu Regalo - ELENA ROSE
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
No Love (Extended) - Summer Walker featuring SZA and Cardi B
3 Kings - Slim Thug featuring Bun B and T.I.
Take It Easy - Jensen McRae
Run Away - Koffee
Summer’s Over - Jordana & TV Girl
Stay With Me - Annatoria
Conceited (There’s Something About Remy) - Remy Ma
1 Call - Amun
Twisted Mind - Purple Disco Machine featuring Agnes
Gonna Get Over You - France Joli
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Youssef Khayat: A home-grown talent raised in Lebanon and developed in France - Mohamad El Chamaa, L’Orient Today
Amid the multiple crises in Lebanon, the country’s basketball team is a rare success story, recently beating Tunisia to win the Arab Nations Basketball Championship in Dubai.
Bullied or ignored - Dana Hourany, NOW Lebanon
The number of women candidates registered for the 2022 parliamentary elections has not increased significantly since the last round in 2018. Experts say this was the result of financial, cultural and political obstacles that benefited the patriarchal order for a very long time.
Money doesn't grow on trees: How the economic crisis in Lebanon is threatening its cedar forests - Robert McKelvey, The New Arab
Lebanon's economic crisis has left many without the necessary fuel needed to heat their homes, leading to a growing problem of deforestation. There are growing fears that, without sustainable conservation efforts, Lebanon may lose its natural beauty.
Abuses against the LGBTQ+ community explode in crisis-stricken Lebanon - Anne-Marie El Hage, L’Orient Le Jour
In a recent report, Helem, a gay rights non-governmental organization, documented 4,007 abuses against this community in 2021, including arrests, torture and blackmail, notably at the hands of law enforcement officials.
Tripoli’s Cinema Paradiso - Sally Abou Aljoud, NOW Lebanon
NOW sits with researcher Nathalie Rosa Bucher, to explore the once thriving cinema culture in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli, and to discuss Tripoliscope, an exhibit on the subject running in Chekka until May.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
In Yemen, racism dooms Black people to life on the margins - Maya Gebeily, Thomson Reuters Foundation News
Millions of Black Yemenis and African migrants see little hope of escaping poverty and marginalisation due to centuries of discrimination.
Meet Ali Alzein, the Syrian beekeeper using his job to help bees and refugees - Acacia Redding, The New Arab
The beekeeping profession has a long history in the Arab world, practised in Egypt as far back as 5,000 years ago. For Syrian refugee Ali Alzein, sustainable methods of beekeeping have also provided a means to help fellow refugees as well as bees.
Algeria's cash crunch: 'Buying oil feels like buying drugs' - Rachid Sekkai, BBC News
Food prices are climbing sharply in Algeria, where shoppers say cooking oil and milk are so scarce that you need to butter up shopkeepers to get any.
Sudan activists say soldiers behind ‘secret’ abductions to stop protests - Ahmed Maher, The National
Enforced disappearances used to intimidate and silence dissent amid rallies against last year’s military takeover, say families and lawyers of the missing.
With inquisition-like tactics, Libya is jailing progressive youths on charges of 'atheism' - Paul McLoughlin, The New Arab
Progressive activists in Libya have been detained by security forces on accusations of promoting atheism and forced to sign 'confessions', triggering fears of a return to Gaddafi's repressive era.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Musician Dana al-Fardan on influences, activism and being the sound of Qatar Airways - Nadda Osman, Middle East Eye
The Qatari musician blends string instruments with powerful vocals and traditional Arab sounds.
Moon Knight: How Mohamed Diab became Marvel’s first Arab director - William Mullally, Esquire Middle East
For Mohamed Diab, helming Moon Knight is the end of a long journey towards greater Arab representation in Hollywood—and the start of a new one.
This Rap Song Helped Sentence a 17-Year-Old to Prison for Life - Jaeah Lee, The New York Times
Research has shown that rap is far more likely to be presented in court and interpreted literally than other genres of music.
‘Life is truly a gift’: Koffee on growth, gratitude and her shining debut album - Cici Peng, gal-dem
With the release of Gifted, Koffee brings her sunshine to the world. She speaks to Cici Peng about keeping her feet planted firmly on the ground.
Rapping in both French and Arabic, Carmeline's sound embraces the Parisian suburbs and her Palestinian roots - Nour Khairi and Dalia Al-Dujaili, AZEEMA
”I have no choice but to reconnect because my name always reminds me of that part of my family history."
📚 Other Reads 📚
Ukraine sunflower oil price surge casts shadow over Ramadan meals - Tala Ramadan and Menna Farouk, Thomson Reuters Foundation News
At the start of the Muslim holy month, families in food-poor Middle Eastern countries are being forced to rethink ‘iftar’ favourites like French fries and deep-fried pastries.
‘He is truly invaluable’: Dikembe Mutombo is still the NBA’s greatest ambassador for Africa - Marc J. Spears, Andscape
“From Giannis Antetokounmpo to female coffee farmers, the Basketball Hall of Famer continues to inspire and assist in Africa and beyond.”
My generation isn’t looking to make friends at work - Katherine Hu, The Boston Globe
Offices will never be the social hubs they once were. It’s better this way.
BuzzFeed Doesn’t Deserve Its Newsroom - Rachel Sanders, The Nation
“Much of the News staff has been written off as dead weight on the payroll. What, after all, is a Pulitzer worth on a balance sheet?”
WNBA star, NBA analyst Chiney Ogwumike on tireless quest to have it all - Ben Golliver, The Washington Post
The Los Angeles Sparks forward and ESPN personality who just turned 30 has a checklist for her next 10 years that include marriage, children and launching a media business.