ABIR is a 24-year-old Moroccan-American singer-songwriter who currently resides in New York City. Her hit song, “Finest Hour,” with Cash Cash plays on loop as I write this. (You have likely heard it on the radio — if you have not, it is time to stream it.) To continue your ABIR education, you must listen to her latest EP titled MINT, which was inspired by traditional Moroccan mint tea and the “tea time” gossip that comes with it.
She is also celebrating Ramadan — like me.
A quick recap for those of you who do not know: Ramadan is a month in which Muslims around the world fast from sunrise to sunset. In wellness speak, think the same benefits that detoxes and intermittent fasting provide, but this time with the added layer of religion and spirituality. By depriving the physical body, we give ourselves the opportunity to cleanse the soul.
A month of intense discipline, overwhelming gratitude and the fostering of community, you quickly regain connection to those around you. Bonds are strengthened by breaking fast with friends and family, hosting and attending interfaith dinners, and giving back to the community through service events and charitable donations. And it feels extra special to see celebrities and influencers openly celebrate the month on social media.
“I look forward to Ramadan every year,” ABIR says. “I feel so much peace during the month, and I always learn something new about myself.”
Ramadan is coming to an end, and I find myself in a state of deep contemplation. Thirty days went by in a flash, a humble reminder that time is fleeting. The days are long, but the years are short, they say. The older I get, the more I realize how true that sentiment is. So, I took advantage of the moment to speak with ABIR. A subscriber’s dream come true — I have been obsessed with her (and her eyebrows) for quite some time — ABIR gives an inside look at what it means for her to be an Arab female in the music industry.
Q: What does Ramadan mean to you, especially as an Arab woman fighting stereotypes in the music industry.
When I started doing Ramadan as a kid, I didn’t really understand what it was, but did it because I had to. But now, as an adult, it [is] so much deeper than that. I feel so much gratitude and gratefulness. [I am] disciplined. I think about the world and how many people don’t get to live a life where they can wake up and eat whenever they want, or drink clean water, or sleep in a warm bed, or live their dreams. It reminds me every day to help others and to be selfless.
Q: What is it like to be breaking the barriers of what it looks like to be an Arab female in America?
It’s pretty fulfilling. Being able to represent for a group of people in the music industry that haven’t had much representation feels really powerful in and of itself. As a Muslim Arab-American, there are a lot of stereotypes and prejudices against what that really means. I want to be able to show the world that we are creatives too. We sing, we dance, we have dreams, and we want to succeed just as much as anyone else despite what you see on the news or in politics. It’s all about disrupting what people think they know because most of the time, they are wrong.
Q: What has been the most exciting part of your career so far?
I think “Finest Hour” was one of my favorite moments thus far. Hearing myself on the radio was mad, and I still can’t believe it. I always dreamt of that moment as a little girl and for it to actually happen felt surreal.
Q: Has entering the world of fame been strange? Do people stop you on the streets?
It’s really crazy to me that I’m able to be recognized by fans on the streets of NYC amongst millions of other people. I’ve been stopped on the streets a couple of times and it seriously makes me tear up every time! I always freak out and call my mom immediately after because it’s so hard to believe!
Q: Do you have any Moroccan beauty secrets?
A few my mother passed along:
- Put a ton of pure olive oil or pure argan oil in your hair and let it sit for two-three hours… rinse, and have smooth, soft, hair!
- Kohl is the best eyeliner known to man.
- Kessa gloves [Moroccan-designed exfoliating gloves used to get rid of dead skin] will change your life forever.
Q: When do you feel the most beautiful?
I feel most beautiful when I am around my loved ones being my complete crazy self.
Q: How do you describe your beauty look?
On most days, I love to go for a ‘fake natural’ look. I focus on making sure my eyebrows and lashes are brought to life, cover up blemishes and pigmentation, hit the bronzer to bring out my features, and add a little glow/highlighter, with a nude lip! During shows I get a little more adventurous and have fun with liquid liner and lip colors!
Q: Favorite beauty spots in New York City?
Floating Lotus for amazing facials, Waxing Center EV for the best eyebrow threading (ask for Pam!), and Aire Ancient Baths for the most amazing massages and baths!
Q: How do you travel and pack for your tours?
I figure out every single outfit for each date (car outfit, show outfit, pajamas), and then throw in three to four extra outfits in case I change my mind. Beauty wise, I bring everything I own!
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