How many times can I say I’m in a weird in-between period without it starting to sound reductive? As I have expressed, the last year has been an incredible dream-come-true, but also very strange and a true test of my patience.
I spent most of 2018 locked away writing my debut book The Greater Freedom: Life as a Middle Eastern Woman Outside the Stereotypes, which will be out in September (!) The doing of said writing has changed me in pretty much every single way.
Having poured every thought and opinion and life experience into The Greater Freedom, I’ve been finding it difficult, now, to know what to write about, even though writing has always come naturally, even though it’s always been the thing that helped me figure out what I thought and felt about things.
Because the book touches on everything from appearance to sex and relationships, politics, religion and beyond, every new idea and thought and life experience I have had since I finished writing is linked to something I explored in the book. And because I don’t want to give anything away just yet, because I don’t want to take away from the book, because so many of these off-shoots will be things I will be writing about as promo closer to the time of release, I can’t write about anything, now.
It’s weird and disorientating but also I am very aware that this is a dream come true. These feelings are co-existing simultaneously within me. I am trying to ride through them, be patient, focus on other things, enjoy the time to replenish so that the words can fly out from my fingertips again. I miss it. It feels good to be writing this.
That said, while the book is being finalised and getting ready to be out in the world, I have been keeping myself busy with other things. I’ve always enjoyed keeping stock of the best bits of my months, of my life, it allows me further space to be grateful and to share some of the inspiring things and people I have been privy to. So below are some of the highlights of the last few months. Internal freak-outs not withstanding.
Writing / Featuring in…
A Guide to Cairo for Suitcase Magazine
I put together a list of some of the best places to stay, eat, shop & what to do while in my hometown in Cairo for Suitcase Magazine. Click here to check it out.
I feature in the Exposed Issue of 1883 Magazine giving some much needed nuance into what it means to be a Muslim woman in London today. I spoke about how writing my forthcoming book The Greater Freedom helped me deconstruct everything from pressures of how I was supposed to look to how I was supposed to believe, as well as what “looking good” means to me and more. Order a copy of the magazine here.
Urban Kingdom Book
In celebration of International Women’s Day, Urban Kingdom have put together a book – out in June – to celebrate 100 iconic and inspiring women who lived through 100 years since the passing of the vote. I was asked to feature alongside some seriously amazing women . You can pre-order the book here.
I was invited on to one of my favourite podcasts, Adrienne Herbert‘s Power Hour Podcast, which has previously featured the likes of Fearne Cotton and The Slumflower. We spoke about everything from morning routines to the book writing process and beyond. Listen back here.
The importance of diversity – in publishing, in TV, in the media and in the world around us is something i feel very passionately about. The first chapter of my book focuses a lot on this – on how it’s easier to be yourself if you can see yourself, and the impact seeing yourself and people like you reflected in the world around you can have on your self-esteem, on your sense of self and on the things you feel are possible. I was invited to fly to Luxembourg to speak on a panel alongside Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené, the authors of the best-selling Slay in Your Lane where we shared our thoughts on this, and on how publishers like Amazon can ensure they are being more diverse in their practices.
I was also invited to speak at the very first L8 Bloomers event in London, where I joined some inspiring panellists to share our journeys thus far in a world that seems want to rush us all into knowing who we are and what we want. The L8 Bloomers is a much needed digital platform which curates content for millennials who are navigating the complexities of #adulting in the 21st century.
I’ve been a long-time fan of the Google Pixel phone and effectively binned my iPhone a few years ago when they gifted me the first edition. This year, they were one of the official sponsors of the BAFTA Awards and invited me to get dressed up, walk the red carpet and watch Rami Malek win the BAFTA for best actor. Okay, there was a lot more that went down but he was my highlight because he is Egyptian and my patriotism runs deep. The group of women the Pixel team put together are in fact what I would like to focus on here, because they are all doing some amazing, truly game-changing work and if you’re not already familiar with them, you should familiarise yourself. It was truly an honour to have been invited alongside them.
Renni Eddo-Lodge – the author behind the conversation-starting Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race
Gina Martin – an activist who successfully campaigned against up-skirting (the ridiculous phenomenon of taking pictures up someone’s skirt) and through her efforts had a law passed to make it illegal. Her first book Be The Change is out later this year.
Florence Given – an artist / activist who first came to my attention when she went viral with her petition to stop Netflix’s fat-shaming series Insatiable.
One of my very best and oldest friends, Lana, has been working super hard on creating the haven that is Lifespace in Notting Hill. Doors recently opened and I have attended a few sessions there, including a beautiful gong meditation which centred me in a much-needed way. They offer everything from massages to sound healing, listening circles, yoga and more and it is a true oasis and respite from a busy London life and mind. Check out the website here.
The Greater Freedom was also selected by Bustle as one of 7 feminist non-fiction books to keep an eye out for this year. Check that out, and the great company it keeps, here.