Discover more from Sa'alouni El Nas
The year is almost over (finally)
What a year. How many times have we said that in 2020? Too many tragedies, too many lives lost, too many times when the weight of it all felt — and still feels — too heavy for us to carry. This year has tested us in too many ways, and these tests will certainly continue in the coming months.
I’m trying to find some comfort in knowing that this year is coming to an end, and that there is a chance (hopefully) to start a new chapter in 2021.
I personally want to thank everyone of you who signed up for this newsletter and stuck with me this year as I tried to figure out its identity. I originally started doing this a few weeks after the August 4th blast in the Port of Beirut, mainly because I didn’t want people to forget what happened. I wanted people to keep reading about Lebanon and remember the people impacted by this national tragedy (which should’ve never happened).
I also started this because of my love for music. One of the few silver linings of 2020 is that I got to spend more time digging into music by Middle Eastern and North African artists outside of the traditional pop that I knew all too well. I wanted everyone to know about the dope content being created by these artists and to thoughtfully curate playlists that people could listen to each week.
But what I’ve enjoyed most about doing this newsletter are the guest features. It’s been so cool to connect with incredible people in the community and talk to them about their own tastes in music. I am deeply appreciative of each and every person I got to talk to this year for this newsletter, and for indulging me in my musical questions. I have a lot of love and respect for each of them.
There will be more things to come with this newsletter in 2021. More playlists, more stories, more guest features. I hope you all have enjoyed receiving this in your inboxes, reading the stories, and listening to the music each week. Know that it means the world to me that you check this out.
Happy New Year, fam. Stay safe.
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Arab Flows (Middle Eastern & North African artists) 🎧
Can’t Catch an Emotion - Malak
Mabi Anam - Husain Dalle
Labass - Mons featuring Flenn
Yalla Yalla - NOURI
Shukr Khas - Tito featuring Hoda Bondok
Sahranin - Ahmed Fakroun
Done - Amira Jazeera
Hazina - Sharmoofers
Matrahak Bi Albi - Majida Al Roumi
Can’t Trust U - Zeina
🎤 Las Vibras (Latinx & Hispanic artists) 🎤
Universitaria - Ñengo Flow
MODO TURBO - Luísa Sonza featuring Anitta and Pablo Vittar
Cuando Te Vi - Greeicy
Libro Abierto - Leonel García featuring iLe
Dándote - Chita featuring Cazzu and Lara91k
Despeinada - Ozuna featuring Camilo
Hasta la Raíz - Natalia Lafourcade
Pronto - Danny Ocean
Volando en la Nube - Catana featuring Rehm and Dirtyfingaz
Dices - Escala Mercalli featuring La Combo Tortuga and Luis Lambis
🎼 Other Music 🎼
More Than A Woman - Bee Gees
Good Days - SZA
Loose - Brooklish featuring Alex & The…
Keep On Walkin’ - CeCe Peniston
JUMPING SHIP - Amaarae featuring Kojey Radical and Cruel Santino
Forget Me Nots - Patrice Rushen
The Muse - Samsonyte featuring T Gallardo
Wonder Girl - BenjiFlow
Ring My Bell - Anita Ward
Pleasantville - Jozzy
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Bassam Saba, Renowned Proponent of Arabic Music, Dies at 62 - Kareem Chehayeb, The New York Times
A skilled multi-instrumentalist, Mr. Saba co-founded the New York Arabic Orchestra and directed Lebanon’s national conservatory of music. He died of complications of COVID-19.
In the aftermath of Beirut’s devastating explosion - Lorenzo Tugnoli, The Washington Post
Photographer Lorenzo Tugnoli documented the immediate aftermath of the explosion, from the unprecedented damage inflicted on the city to the many lives lost.
Months after Beirut blast, victims await answers - Samia Nakhoul and Imad Creidi, Reuters
The Aug. 4 tragedy was one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions ever recorded. More than four months later, victims are still awaiting the result of the investigation into why 2,750 tonnes of potentially explosive material were stored unsafely at the port, which is surrounded by residential areas, for more than six years.
Lebanon was on life support. Now it’s in free fall. - Kareem Chehayeb, The Washington Post
After a pandemic, economic crisis and a deadly explosion, Lebanon’s devastating year comes to an end.
Lebanon arrests 8 after refugee camp set ablaze: statement - Hashem Osseiran, Agence France-Presse
"I came back to check on belongings inside our small tent only to discover that we no longer own anything," said Amira Issa, a 45-year-old mother of five who fled Syria eight years ago.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Saudi Arabia Is Slowly Killing My Father - Abdullah Alaoudh, The New York Times
President-elect Joe Biden must push the country to release its political prisoners.
Lost and Found in Guantanamo Bay - Jasmine El-Gamal, Newlines Magazine
Two encounters with two different men in the most notorious detention facility in the world shaped Jasmine’s faith – and her life – forever.
Egypt’s Dangerous New Strategy for Criminalizing Queerness - Afsaneh Rigot, Slate
By trying cases under cybercrime and online morality laws, prosecutors are pursuing harsher sentences and ironclad convictions.
2 brothers were separated in an Iraqi jail. Now one believes he's found the other. - Saphora Smith, NBC News
“When I saw Ahmed for the first time, I told myself, 'Yes, this is my brother,'” Haydar Jawad Nasser said. “I felt when I hugged him that he is Ahmed.”
Syria’s bread lines are so long that children have to skip school to wait in them - Sarah Dadouche, The Washington Post
The bread crisis, involving severe shortages and soaring prices, is the most visible sign of the economic meltdown.
🎶 Music & Culture 🎶
The Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb: ‘There’s fame and there’s ultra-fame – it can destroy you’- Alexis Petridis, The Guardian
The band’s last surviving member talks about falling out with his brothers before they died, how his wife saved him from drugs – and why he had to ask Michael Jackson to leave his house.
Wonder Woman’s Middle Eastern Stereotypes Should Have Stayed in the 1980s - Roxana Hadadi, Slate
Reviving leg warmers is one thing. Bringing back noxious ethnic caricatures is another.
How Egyptian diva Umm Kulthum helped me understand the meaning of ‘tarab’ - Aditya Sharma, Scroll.in
The Arabic word is almost impossible to define precisely in English.
An Oscar Winner Made a Khashoggi Documentary. Streaming Services Didn’t Want It. - Nicole Sperling, The New York Times
Bryan Fogel’s examination of the killing of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi had trouble finding a home among the companies that can be premier platforms for documentary films.
How the Last Blockbuster Store Is Surviving the Pandemic: Nostalgia, Sleepovers and T-Shirt Sales - Beatrice Verhoeven, The Wrap
Plus, with theaters closed and people outwatching the streamers’ offerings, Blockbuster offers tangible entertainment.
📚 Other Reads 📚
This powerful photo of her kneeling before San Jose riot police went viral. Now we know her story - Julia Prodis Sulek, East Bay Times
Khennedi Meeks is sharing her story after resisting coming forward for months to tell the world, beyond family and friends or the occasional stranger who asked, that she was the woman on one knee in an epic Black Lives Matter protest photo.
How COVID-19 Hollowed Out a Generation of Young Black Men - Akilah Johnson and Nina Martin, ProPublica
They were pillars of their communities and families, and they are not replaceable. To understand why COVID-19 killed so many young Black men, you need to know the legend of John Henry.
To stay or to go? - Hannah Dreier, The Washington Post
Amid coronavirus outbreaks, migrants face the starkest of choices: Risking their lives in U.S. detention or returning home to the dangers they fled.
Families are turning obituaries into final pleas to avoid COVID-19 - Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times
The mourners do not have tens of millions of Twitter followers, nor do television cameras hang on their every word. Instead they’re buying obituaries in local newspapers, sometimes for several hundred dollars, to share their own frustration, anger and pain.
The Baffling, Years-Long Beef Between Kyrie Irving and NBA Media, Explained - Damon Young, The Root
When it’s a sport’s offseason and an athlete’s name trends as often as Kyrie Irving’s does—well, an athlete not named LeBron James—it’s usually because of an injury, a trade, or perhaps even some legal issue. Kyrie, however, seems to always be in the news because of...a podcast and a couple of creatively punctuated pre-written statements to the media.
If you enjoyed reading this newsletter and want to receive it in your inbox each week, be sure to hit the subscribe button below!