Discover more from Sa'alouni El Nas
Guest Feature: Yousra Samir Imran
Thanks for reading Sa'alouni El Nas! If you haven’t yet, please subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
One quick thing before we get into the newsletter today.
Captagon is a stimulant that was originally produced as a medication to treat narcolepsy and ADHD in the 1960s, but was taken off the shelves in the 1980s for side-effects such as inducing anxiety and paranoia. Production has moved to Syria and Lebanon, and while most customers are in Gulf countries like, there’s a market at home in Lebanon as well.
To be clear, both Captagon and the trade itself have cost people their lives, and has had negative ripple effects across Lebanon.
I included one of the stories below from L’Orient Today’s series, but I highly recommend checking out the other stories that go beyond the daily headlines.
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Yousra Samir Imran!
Yousra is a British Egyptian journalist and the author of semi-autobiographical novel Hijab and Red Lipstick, which was born out of her wish to write a memoir about her time growing up between London and Doha, but worrying about the implications so she turned it into a novel. She still plans on writing a memoir one day.
Her bylines include The New Arab, Al Jazeera, gal-dem, The New York Times Magazine, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Grazia and Stylist.
Yousra is a women’s rights activist and tries to raise awareness about the guardianship system in the Gulf. She also raises awareness about spiritual abuse.
Yousra has a keen interest in Islam and feminism and is part of the Musawah collective, trying to raise awareness about the need for change to family law and personal status codes in Muslim countries, and the reinterpretation and re-application of Islamic law using an egalitarian approach.
She is currently working on her second novel, a British Muslim romance.
Music-wise Yousra loves progressive house, drum-n-bass, and trance, and still has a soft spot for the rock bands she was obsessed with when she was a teenager (like Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Prodigy and No Doubt). ‘80s synth pop is her guilty pleasure.
When it comes to Arabic music she is firmly stuck in the 1990s, but listens to modern Khaleeji music as that’s what she grew up listening to in the Gulf.
Y’all, Yousra’s taste in music is just as varied as her accomplishments and it’s a beautiful thing to see. Check it out for yourselves:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
I am loving Jordanian DJ Hijazi’s remix of “Ya Ghali” at the moment.
I listen to a lot of Desi music as my husband is Pakistani, and we currently have the “Ilzaam (Remix)” by Muki, Haseeb Haze, and Frenzo Harami, and “Summer High” by AP Dhillon on repeat.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
For all my feels I usually listen to “Laftah” by Abbas Ibrahim, “Taw’am Roohi” by Ragheb Alama, and “Laayounik” by Ramy Ayach. I’m very much stuck in the ‘90s and believe that decade was the pinnacle of Arabic music.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
It’s hard to pinpoint what home is for me, as I grew up between the UK and Qatar with visits to Egypt interspersed. I’d say Fairouz’s “Saaltak Habiby”, “Kedeish Kan Fe Nas”, and “Al Bostah” because of the nostalgia - they remind me of long summer nights in London as a child, my dad driving us to Edgware Road (which is like a mini Arabia in London) playing Fairouz with the windows rolled down.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
I know all the words to AbdulRabb Idriss’ “Laila” and often sing it to my baby Ammar. I love Yemeni artists and “Laila” is definitely a modern classic.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
Amr Diab’s “Nour El Ain” never fails to get me in a joyous mood and I often put it on when I’m happy or excited.
Big shout out to Yousra for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Yousra’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Make sure you check out Yousra on Twitter and go buy her book!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Flows 🎧
3alemni - Adonis
Kalam Kteer - Montiyago
3lem Mowazi - Almas
ZONA - Kira7
YOURS & MINE - El SEEN featuring Osten
c la v - El Ayo
Telefoni - Dareen
Sibtily el Mady - ARRA
Jamais de la vie - Salma Rachid
Lost Case - Layal
🎤 Latinx & Hispanic Vibes 🎤
ÉSTAS BUENÍSIMO - Nathy Peluso
Be With You - Enrique Iglesias
Intenté Quererte Bien - Sofi de la Torre
Bailemos Pegaito - Marissa Mur
SI ES AMOR - Danny Ocean featuring Beéle
Ay Dios Mio - Moncho featuring Nayomi
Luna - Sofia Reyes
CAIRO - KAROL G featuring Ovy on the Drums
Underground - Emilia
Bayamón - ELENA ROSE
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Bag of You - Mahalia
The One - Stefflon Don
Ride or Die - DRAM
Ma bien aimée bye bye - Christine and the Queens
We Fly High (Ballin’) - Jim Jones
Envious - SAULT
MAITAMA - Teni featuring Mayorkun, Costa Titch, and Ch’cco
Magic Wand - TeeZandos
Gold Teeth - BROCKHAMPTON
Do you miss me? - PinkPantheress
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
The residents who said no to the ‘generator mafia’ - Nada Ghosn, L’Orient Today
Despite measures adopted in 2017, a large portion of Lebanon’s residents pay exorbitant amounts to private generator owners every month. Is this unavoidable? Some say no.
Lebanon’s Amended Banking Secrecy Law: Causes and Consequences - Ali Nourredine, Fanack
On October 29, 2022, the amendment to the banking secrecy law was formally adopted by the President of the Republic, ending Lebanon's era of extensive banking secrecy.
Lebanon’s Parliament fails to elect president for sixth time - Jamie Prentis, The National
Country has yet to replace Michel Aoun since his departure last month.
Lebanese court blocks ban on LGBTQ+ gatherings - William Christou, The New Arab
The judicial body has not yet ruled whether or not the Interior Minister's decision was unconstitutional, but agreed to block its implementation until the court could issue a final ruling.
‘With Captagon, I feel invincible’: People with addictions open up about their experiences - Lyana Alameddine and Guilhem Dorandeu, L’Orient Today
Pomegranates stuffed with pills, dummy corporations, false certificates: “Since the crisis began, more and more patients have been admitted for using Captagon.”
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
‘Oh, my gosh. It’s real;’ Jana El Alfy follows her dreams from Egypt to UConn - Dom Amore, The Hartford Courant
“Before I signed, I felt like, ‘yeah, I’m going to UConn,’” El Alfy said Monday, after a practice with the Egyptian national team in Cairo.
Israeli raids in the West Bank push Palestinians to bring again - Alice Speri, The Intercept
“I’m torn between saying this is an escalation and saying this is part of what we’ve lived through for 55 years. … The whole world is shocked by Ukraine. But that shock doesn’t apply here, because it’s been 55 years.”
A hefty toll to pay: Algeria feels the impact of climate change on wheat and barley - Nihal Doweib, Raseef22
Many frightening and disturbing thoughts are currently dominating the minds of farmers in Algeria.
In Yemen, farmers choose narcotic over other crops, exacerbating climate woes - Khaled Abdullah and Adel Al-Khadher, Reuters
Farmers are draining groundwater around Yemen's capital and removing soil to cultivate the narcotic green leaf qat that dominates life in the country, threatening to exhaust precious resources in the climate-vulnerable nation.
Why This City in Iraq Is Coming Together to Save Its Date Palms - Sam Kimball, TIME
“This spot was once barren desert. No birds, no animals, no life. Now there is water, animals.”
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
On Sahar, A Peek Inside Tamino’s Pandemic Quarters - Lylla Younes, Scene Noise
Lylla Younes caught up with the Egyptian/Belgian artist on tour in New York to discuss his latest record, his new love affair with the oud, and returning to the stage.
Wael Shawky Enters the Realm of Myth - Nana Asfour, The New York Times Magazine
The multidisciplinary artist’s work dives into history and legend to explore the fantasies and manipulations underpinning our modern world.
Shatila’s first opera: Young Syrian creatives’ performance a ‘window’ to their dreams - Farah-Silvana Kanaan, L’Orient Today
The opera, or rather the operetta, was written, composed and performed from scratch in less than five days. Although most of the kids had never sung in public before the first day of practice, during their performance they were confidently belting out their own lyrics.
Ari Lennox Is Searching for a Radical Love - Clover Hope, Pitchfork
The R&B star reflects on her time surfing AOL chat rooms, not settling for less, and her wonderfully frank new album, “age/sex/location”.
Rauw Alejandro’s Cosmic Reggaeton Takes Flight - Isabelia Herrera, The New York Times
On his third album, “Saturno,” the Puerto Rican musician further reimagines the genre, drawing on the worlds of Miami bass, late ’90s underground and freestyle music.
📚 Other Reads 📚
The Beautiful, Brutal World of Bonsai - Robert Moor, The New Yorker
An American undergoes a gruelling apprenticeship to a Japanese master.
Reunion - Bruna Dantas Lobato, Guernica Magazine
Under her bed in her tiny bedroom: a box of secrets not worth keeping, but not worth revealing either.
Long live the mall food court! - Jean Chen Ho, Los Angeles Times
“I loved dining at the food court. I loved the people-watching. I loved the ambient din of conversation.”
Surge in use of rape against women and rivals by Haiti gangs - Jess DiPierro Obert, The New Humanitarian
Haitian women and children are not just being caught up in the country’s spiralling gang wars – they are increasingly being targeted for rapes, torture, kidnappings, and killings by the 200 armed groups that now control 60% of the capital. (*Content warning: this story discusses rape and sexual violence)
What Tanzania tells us about Africa’s population explosion as the world hits 8bn people - Caroline Kimeu, The Guardian
Dar es Salaam, which is heading for megacity status, typifies a region growing three times faster than the global average.