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Bedouin’s Coffee Corner From the Heart of The Middle East

Sabal Almadi Bedouin's Coffee Corner

Bedouin’s Coffee Corner, is a podcast by Sabal Almadi  highlighting progressive movements and change-makers in the Middle East. Episodes include guests from Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and more. 

Topics and questions revolve around changes related to stereotypical roles in society and how guests careers evolved over time. Please watch our interview with Sabal Almadi ,  from Bedouin’s Coffee Corner to learn more about her and her podcast .

Who are Bedouins?

Interview by Tijana Ibrahimovic

Tijana: Hello everyone. I’m here with Sabal  Almadi. She is a founder and a host of Bedouin’s Coffee Corner podcast. Welcome to POP Style TV.

Sabal Almadi: Thank you so much for having me on I’m so excited.

Tijana: I’m excited to hear all about the goals for the Bedouin’s Coffee Coroner but I’d first love to hear a little bit about your background. I mean your English is perfectly American.

Sabal Almadi: Yeah. So, um, my name is Sabal Almadi. I’m an Arab American. I’m a journalist actually. I am a graduate of New York University, a master’s degree in journalism

Tijana: You are a first Arab American to complete this program?

Sabal Almadi: Um, yeah. Yeah. So, so I was the first person that lives in the Middle East to be in this program, but I’m also the first Arab American to be in that program, Arab overall. So that was certainly an experience for me. Um, like, yeah, I’m a journalist. I love hearing people’s stories.

Tijana: So, did you grow up in United States or you grew up in the Middle East?

Sabal Almadi: Oh, when people ask me this question, I say I’m a little bit of a, like a nomad in the sense, because, so I was born and raised for a portion of my life in Dallas, Texas. Um, and then my family, my parents they’re Jordanian. So I’m Jordanian American decided to move back to the Middle East. Um, for a lot of reasons. Um, one of the major ones was that they wanted us to really connect with our culture and have that overall experience, be around family and cousins and friends.

So we moved back to the Middle East. Um, and then I kind of bounced around because I did high school in Jordan, my family, when they moved, they moved to Saudi Arabia. So. In high school. I did boarding school at King’s Academy, Jordan, shout out to two Kings, but I did my high school there. And then I did my bachelor’s degree in the Emirates, the  university of Sharjah. So I kind of just like moved around a little bit. Um, and so I finally figured out what I wanted to.

Tijana: That’s great. So that way you can, uh, present sort of both areas in the right way, or at least like help people from the West, understand the culture a little better. So, uh, why did you decide to start Bedouin’s Coffee Corner and does the fact that you are sort of moving around does it have anything to do with the name? Maybe you can tell me more about what is a bedouin?

Sabal Almadi: So, um, that’s a great question. So I chose the Bedouins Coffee Coroner because my dad’s side of the family are originally from the Bedouins of Jordan. And so Bedouins are, you know, the people who essentially, uh, lived a little bit further out in this desert. They, you know, were, um, you know, an incredible society all altogether, but the way that they did things so it was very unique and traditional, um, So, you know, my dad’s family originate from there and I just resonate with that so much.

I like to say I’m a little bit too patriotic sometimes. Um, but I’m very proud that I’m Jordanian. And so, you know, when I was creating the Bedouin’s Coffee Corner I was just sitting one day with my mom over coffee, um, literally at the coffee corner in our house and she goes, why don’t you just, you know, you always want to tie Bedouin somewhere, so why don’t you just do like Bedouin’s Coffee Corner and that’s kind of how it was born out or at least the name was created.

Tijana: I was just actually going to say and correct me if I’m wrong, but Bedouins have like also a special fashions they wear or utilize. I’m not sure about bedouins from Jordan, but I know like Moroccan bedouins , they have like really dramatic jewelry, a lot of color, um, is the case with, um, bedouins from Jordan as well.

Sabal Almadi: Yeah. So it’s really the case all over the Middle East. I feel like, like each area has their traditional dress, so I’m actually, I’ll actually send you a picture after this, but last eid I wore our traditional dress because I wanted to say like, you know,  hello from the Bedouin’s Coffee Corner. Um, so I wore traditional dress.

So each area actually has their own dress depending on the, um, you know, external factors that they lived in. So the climate, the, um, atmosphere, etc, all these different things impact the way that people from a certain area dress. So for example, in Jordan, we have an area called Al Salt. Um, you know so they wear a certain type of clothes like traditionally, and then you have, for example, where my mom is from Irbid , which is up North. So they have a different type of a dress as well. But again  like now these days we don’t really wear that. And I feel like that’s such a misconception of like what people wear in the Middle East it’s it’s, you know, it’s something we preserve for traditional, um, purposes, but you don’t just walk around and see people wearing it.

Tijana: That that is very, um, interesting. So tell me a little bit more about, um, the guests that you have on your podcast. Um, and what are you sort of aiming to do with Bedouin’s Coffee Corner?

Sabal ALmadi: So I’ll answer this question or reverse. So I am aiming to essentially show the amazing things that are going on in the Middle East that aren’t necessarily covered in traditional Western media.

Let’s say we’re international media. I feel like, unfortunately there’s always this miss-conception of what the Middle East is, how Middle Eastern people are, and we get so boxed up in what the media, you know, categorizes us as. Um, unfortunately. And so that was kind of the thing that made me want to go into journalism.

So Bedouin’s Coffee Corner essentially is the middle east through my eyes.  I choose guests that are making a change, that are doing something different that I feel like are really holding the value of being, for example, an Arab and doing something different. But also I like to, you know, honor those who live in the Middle East, who aren’t of, um, you know, Middle Eastern background who are creating a tremendous change in our society.

Um, So Bedouin’s Coffee Corner started because of that, I was just really tired of the misrepresentation in the media. And I felt like, you know, well, if we’re not going to be represented correctly, and if we’re not going to be able to represent ourselves in international media, maybe I can start something that if it reaches enough people will really show the side of the Middle East that has never really covered.

So that’s how it started. Um, not to answer the second part of your question about my guests. I really admire everyone who comes on my show. Um, I feel like I let them do the speaking. So if you listen to the episodes, I just kind of steer the conversation slightly based on what they’re telling me. Um, and so I have guests who are you know, like I had the first men’s fashion blogger in Jordan be on my first episode, I have designers, graphic designers, um, people of photography, fashion, photography, uh, adventures, hikers, runners, people who own businesses. I really tried to bring on people from all different industries on the podcast that can really speak and show the change that’s going on.

Um, and each guest is so unique. I’ve never felt like they overlap in their stories. So that’s also so beautiful to me.

Tijana: So they’re not just from the creative world or world of fashion. They’re from all sorts of backgrounds

Sabal Almadi: 100%. I, you know, open it to really anybody who’s doing something that I feel like has an impact. You know, I, I usually reach out to the guests, sometimes I’ve had people reach out to me. Um, you know, and so in that case, I just, I look at what they’re doing and not necessarily, you know, not everyone who has an amazing stories is showing on social media. A lot of people are making change and are doing things, but aren’t necessarily, um, on the social media side.

So those people also like, you know, are people that should be honored in our society. And so that’s kind of how I, how I look at the guests that are coming on.

Tijana: Do you have a dream guest?

Sabal Almadi: I have a list.

Tijana: That’s good. That’s, that’s a start. I have a whole list of, uh, dream guests. That’s amazing.

Sabal Almadi: Yeah. I, um, you know, my mom always tells me, always try, try to shoot your shots. So interestingly enough, like there are some people who are relatively big names that I have emailed and have gone back to me saying sure but like in April and I’m like, wow. Yes, of course, whatever works for you. So it’s always so interesting to see, like you never know, right. Who’s going to agree to be exactly.

Tijana: Exactly. So, um, podcast is in English, correct? So the whole people that aren’t from the area can also understand you. Um, how do you think is the best to explain to, um, us that aren’t from Middle East, how to properly appreciate your culture versus culturally, um, you know, appropriate.

Sabal Almadi: Yeah. I feel like a cultural appropriation is something that has been a hot topic over the past couple of years, because it is important and we need to all understand, um, how to appreciate each other’s cultures while still respecting them. I think that with the middle east and the Arab culture in general, the, and the most beautiful thing is each country have their own culture. So we all overlap in some things, but like people in Jordan have different traditions than people in Saudi Arabia, for example, or people in Saudi have different culture than people in Egypt.

So there’s a different culture to each one where we do overlap in a lot of, and a lot of, uh, similarities. But I think the way to do it honestly is just to ask, I feel like a lot of people uh, assume and make assumptions. And so I think that in order to be able to appreciate our culture, whether it’s through the music, the food, the dress, um, I think the best way is to just do the research and be open to what people are telling you.

Um, you know, I think we’re all on this planet to respect and admire each each other’s cultures. That’s why there are so many, it’s, it’s such a beautiful thing when you really think of it, how amazing the world is and how many cultures there are. So I think in my opinion, it’s just to really do the research and ask, um, and also to really understand, you know, the, the criticality of things, if something can be, is done because of, you know, certain tradition over thousands of thousands of years, but you’re going to take it and turn it into something slightly that could be taken in a way that is slightly disrespectful, maybe stay away from that. So it’s really all about just understanding the values of that culture before you want to take something from that culture.

Tijana: Absolutely. And now, in context to, uh, being female in the Middle East, uh, could you clarify some of main misconceptions people have.

Sabal Almadi: Yeah, I think the most common one is that we are very like oppressed women. I think, you know, I hear it a lot and I’m always stunned when I hear it, because you would think that people would know better by now because of social media, you know, like you have Tick-Tock, Instagram, like all these different platforms with people from different backgrounds, so, um, sharing their lives.

And so I think one of the most misconceptions is that we’re oppressed. Um, You know, unfortunately I feel like a lot of people think that way and I feel like, you know, at least 99% of the society, isn’t that way. Um, you know, me, for example, like here I am, I have a podcast I’m, you know, I have a master’s, I’m trying to pursue something else, like doing so many different things.

My mother is educated. All her sisters have, you know, higher education and it’s just really that whole misconception. Um, it’s just really interesting to me because we don’t sit here thinking other people are oppressed. I think that’s the main one. Um, but you know, there are a lot of, I can give going on around bull, but there are a lot of misconceptions people have as being an Arab woman in the Middle East, but also being a hijabi woman. You know, I think that’s also another thing that people are a little nit picky about with their assumptions.

Tijana: And so what should people that want to visit expect a lot?

Sabal Almadi: A lot! Honestly, there’s so many different things to do so many places to visit. Uh, people are incredibly welcoming in Saudi Arabia. Um, and overall in the Middle East, I’m just gonna throw that in there.

I feel like the culture that we have is to be very generous and welcoming, and that’s just kind of the values that our societies are built on, but even in Saudi, you know, people are so welcoming and there’s so many different things to see, um, whether that’s heritage sites, cultural sites, if that’s getting involved in new events.

Also something really interesting that I feel like people aren’t so aware of is like the coffee and, you know, dining industry, let’s say food and dining industry here is just like growing at such a rapid pace. So you have all these different, uh, cuisines that you can try, but also of highest quality. Right? So. It’s just such a place to be right now. You can expect generosity. You can expect people to be very welcoming of you. You can expect an incredible time when you come visit for sure.

Tijana: And so Sabal what are some of your goals?

Sabal Almadi: Wow. Um, my, some of my goals, actually, I think one of my biggest one is to get people to become investors in these show only because I feel like the message we have to get across globally is so big and so important that I feel like, um, when you get investors and, and turn things from a one-person show into a full platform or business on a certain platform right it becomes very critical to those who you’re representing. And I feel like in a time where we don’t have representation or don’t have people like us are presenting us, um, this is something that I really want to create for others.

So that’s one of my goals. I think my other goals, you know, would really be to keep it authentic and to continue to have the guests on that, I feel like are making a difference in a change. And lastly, honestly, if it inspires one person, if it inspires one Arab to feel like they have a voice or to be proud of their culture, then I’m, I’m going to keep going and I’m doing the right thing. And if it changes the mind of one person who really doesn’t understand the Middle East fully, or has been told different things, their whole lives by other media, you know, that’s another goal I have is to just keep, keep going and having that impact as much as I can.

Tijana: Well, I wish you continued success and thank you so much. Maybe see you in Middle East soon.

Sabal Almadi: Yes, for sure. Please do come visit. And when you do let me know, we’ll plan the whole thing for you.

Tijana: I can’t wait. Thank you so much.

Watch interview with Jordana Guimaraes & Fashinnovation next 

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