4 Powerful Women Changing the Game in the Arab World
Written by AAAZT on 12/03/2021
Monday 8th March was International Women’s Day, and this month is International Women’s month. Since I love to celebrate my sisters all over the world, I (Producer Aasiyah) thought that the perfect way to celebrate them is to introduce our small part of the world to their work, right? This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these women are killing it in their fields, and WE LOVE TO SEE IT!
Rémie Akl – Lebanon 🇱🇧
Rémie Akl is nothing short of a whirlwind. While she sings, dances, acts and directs, in a statement, she clarified her artistic practice: ‘I am an art performer and a digital visual storyteller.’ And tell stories, she certainly does.
In 2020, Rémie caught the eye of the world, but at the height of the 2019 Lebanese October Revolution, Rémie caught the hearts of the nation’s youth. All it took was a few videos that she published at this time to show that she is a force to be reckoned with. And since? Well, in each of her videos, Rémie tackles all forms of injustice: in her videos so far we’ve seen themes of patriarchal mentalities, corrupt systems, social media and sexual harassment tackled in a way that’s extremely refreshing. Rémie’s creativity connects her to her audience in a way that the standard (although still effective) protest does not.
Rémie combines poetry, the beloved tradition in the heart of Arabs everywhere, with striking visuals that we as youth are hungry for. Watching her videos, I’m physically drawn in. No seriously, my nose is on my phone’s screen.
So how’s she changing the world? Watch her videos, and tell me you don’t feel like going out in the streets and demanding for change for the better.
Faiza Rammuny – Palestine x America 🇵🇸🇺🇸
I found out about Faiza Rammuny on Instagram, and she’s been blessing my timeline since I pressed that follow button. The Chicago-born Palestinian-American life coach and writer has been setting Instagram on fire with her wisecracks and her comedy skits in which she brings onto the world stage pretty much everything that Arab families like keeping behind closed doors: sexism, virginity, relationships, dating, personal religious practice, emotional abuse, what it means to be ‘expired’ and so much more. If anything, she’s proud of it – she’s ExpirednFabulous, beriod.
Using TikTok, Instagram and Youtube as her platform, Faiza is giving women across the MusRab (read Arab) world a safe space to which they can relate (I know I can). Even though sex-positivity, body-positivity and relationship taboos could be thought of as a saturated market (we’ll talk about the marketisation of positivity movements another time), in focusing on what a lot of people (beoble) still see as taboo subjects in the context of a culture that is as conservative as the Arab one, Faiza is so incredibly relatable – she’s explicitly subtle. (anyone for some shishka bobbing?)
By bringing in this positive energy to the Arab world, empowering women and having these conversations, Faiza is helping to change attitudes about how women see themselves in a culture that tells them who and what they should be, when. I don’t know, but I am a Halal’rami and broud!
Yousra Elbagir – Sudan x UK 🇸🇩🇬🇧
As a proud Sudanese woman, picking out just one woman to rep my country was difficult. But Yousra Elbagir is truly shaking shit up. A fantastic journalist, her work reporting on the ground from Khartoum during the Sudanese Revolution of 2019 was beyond inspiring. Featured on the BBC, Channel 4, COLORS Studios, SOLE, the Financial Times, Vice and more, Yousra is a shining example of amazing journalism in action.
It’s not just that she’s Sudanese for me, nor is it that she’s a journalist – it’s the integrity she shows in her work, and the simplicity of her explanations. Not only has she covered the Sudanese Revolution, Yousra has also investigated and reported on sex trafficking, health inequality, and racism, bringing attention to global issues in such an elegant way, as well as just casually interviewing icons like Burna Boy and Mr Eazi. (I’m fingerling. Hard.)
Yousra Elbagir is a fantastic inspiration for everyone everywhere, and I know that there’s more to come from this icon of the journalism world.
Asayel Slay – Saudi Arabia 🇸🇦
A hip hop artist is not necessarily the first occupation that comes to mind when you think of a girl from Mecca, but Asayel Slay’s ‘Bint mecca’ (Girl in Mecca) is proof that the trend is being bucked. Asayel Slay showed us her raw talent and her pride at being a Black women from Mecca, and simultaneously pulled back the Saudi ‘liberal’ veil. Asayel Slay is changing the Arab world by making it holding a mirror up to itself. In doing so, she’s helping to give voice to Black Arabs that are often underrepresented, and has highlighted what needs working on in terms of race and gender equality, not only in Saudi or the Gulf, but in the Arab world overall.
And as far as rap as concerned – Asayel Slay raps in both Arabic and English, from a region that tends to choose one language or the other. By sticking to her native language, she’s telling us that she’s proud of who she is at heart, and by extending her lyricism to English, she’s helping those of those of us who love our cultures but don’t always have the language to express it to reach out.
And Asayel Slay isn’t a one hit wonder – she’s constantly posting up lyrics on her Instagram, and I hope that soon we might even get another track or possibly an album? Who knows? But what we do know, is that Asayel Slay is one to watch.