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Lessons We Learned From al empire Season 3 Guests

As we wrap up season 3 of al empire podcast, we would like to take a moment to look back at the inspiring interviews this season and the words of wisdom that resonated with us. From heart-to-heart with Mo Amer, Big Hass, Hassan Hajjaj, and many others, here’s everything we learned from season 3 guests on al empire. 

Embrace Your Uniqueness & Originality – Mo Amer

The epic journey of Palestinian-American standup comedian Mo Amer is one for the history books. Ever since he was a child, Mo knew he wanted to be a comedian. But as a Palestinian refugee settling in Houston Texas in the 90s, he was the oddball. There was no one else like him in his hometown or class.

“I don’t even remember there was a Muslim person around doing standup close to me – if there weren’t even Arab. I was like wow, if there is nobody else like me, I might as well talk about the stuff that I know,” Mo told el empire Co-host and Producer, Dana Ballout.

Today, Mo has not only become one of the most influential comedians in the world, but also an icon for Arab-Americans around the world. He starred in the Hulu sensation, “Ramy”, wrote and starred in his own show “Mo”, and has his own Netflix comedy specials. Mo’s exciting career journey is a testament that embracing your culture and originality can help you achieve your dreams and that there’s no such thing as impossible if you work hard enough.
Tune in to Mo Amer’s episode on al empire here.

Never Look Down on a Job Opportunity – Maha Abouelenein

The career journey of Egyptian-American woman leader, Maha Abouelenein, is nothing short of admirable. Maha went from being a small town girl in Minnesota, to becoming an entrepreneur, a communications superstar, and building an empire between the US and the Middle East. She built a three-decade-long career that spans across telecom, public relations, and managing personal brands of celebrity clients.
But besides successfully juggling many endeavors in her multifaceted career path, perhaps one of the valuable lessons we can learn from Maha is to never look down on a job opportunity and that learning and growing sometimes means playing the hand you were dealt.

“Becoming the office manager for a chairman of a company was the best learning ground for me. I learned about the business, the ins and outs of operations, and I started to make suggestions and add value. Never have I been able to go through that, had I not taken that job,” Maha told Dana.

Tune in to Maha Abou El Enein’s full al empire interview here.

Being a Pioneer is Cool – Big Hass

In 2008, Hassan, a Jeddawi with a larger-than-life personality, came upon a mixtape that changed his life. The mixtape had a collection of Arab hip hop music that he heard for the very first time from artists like Narci, Lowkey, Shadia Mansour, and Omar Offendum. Those were the four artists that “shaped who Big Hass is.”   

“The subjects that these artists were talking about were political, social, community issues that no one was talking about,”  Big Hass told Kerning Cultures CEO and al empire co-host, Hebah Fisher. 

Hassan spent years researching hip hop, educated himself on the genre, until he kickstarted a career as music producer, produced a show around hip hop culture, and even published an online magazine on all things hip hop.  Today, Big Hass has proven himself both a legend and pioneer in the regional hip hop scene. His journey proves that it’s never too late to pursue your passion wholeheartedly and become an expert in what fuels your soul. Tune in to Big Hass’ full interview on al empire here.

Breaking the Stigma Can Be Awesome  – Khaled Kteily

The entrepreneurial story of Canadian-Lebanese Khaled Kteily is probably one of the coolest we’ve heard to date. It took one small accident to transform his entire career trajectory, build a business from the ground up, and launch ‘Legacy’, a digital male fertility clinic. 
But perhaps what makes Khaled’s journey all the more inspiring – besides his leap of faith – is that he is breaking the fertility stigma, challenging the outdated view that it is exclusively a woman’s issue, and actively trying to rebalance responsibilities around family planning. 

“Every man should be doing this. If all it takes is for you to masturbate once and pay a few hundred dollars to preserve your ability to have kids for the rest of your life, then shouldn’t you? It feels like a no-brainer to me,” Khaled told Dana. 

Tune in to Khaled Kteily’s full interview on al empire here.

Art Has Many Faces –  Hassan Hajjaj

British-Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj is a true prolific artist in every sense of the word. Best known for being the “Andy Warhol of Marrakech”, Hassan’s artistry spans across fashion, photography, pop culture, Moroccan heritage, Afro influence, and many more.

“It was a long journey for me to call myself an artist […] to reach that point of feeling full and complete as an artist,” Hassan told Dana.

His journey proves that there is no such thing as Jack of all trades is a master of none and that art can have as many faces as you’d like to explore. “You have to be a hustler. When I say hustler, it means you have to hustle the art game,” he added.

Tune in to Hassan Hajjaj’s full interview on al empire here.

Your Essence & Authenticity Can Take You Places – Majid Al Maskati

Bahraini-Scottish artist Majid Al Maskati of the R&B duo, Majid Jordan, has a remarkable musical journey. An unlikely chain of events led Majid, and his producing partner, Jordan Ullman to go from making songs in a dorm room and a basement, to becoming the renowned R&B duo Majid Jordan, creating a hit single for Drake, and getting signed under his label.
But within the rise to fame, maybe the best thing we can learn from Majid’s path is the importance of protecting your artistic essence and authenticity at all times while creating art and allowing your creative spirit to flow without hindrance. 

“I think in the initial stages, it’s very easy to follow your intuition because it’s like you’ve been waiting your whole life to express yourself musically, melodically, so whatever comes out of you, it’s almost completely authentically you,” Majid told Hebah.

Tune in to Majid Al Maskati’s full interview on al empire here.

Express Your Cultural Diversity with Music – Nooriyah

DJ and multi-talented artist, Nooriyah got into the world of music and DJing by mere chance. Growing up between Saudi Arabia, the UK and Japan, she quickly adopted a diverse musical style that blends genres from around the globe.
Soon after, she carved a name for herself in the DJ hall of fame when she played a phenomenal cross-cultural boiler room set, championing sounds of the diaspora in unique and unparalleled musical compilations. 

Nooriyah’s young but impressive musical career proves that you don’t have to be torn between worlds or be in the middle of nowhere, and that embracing your cultural diversity and your identity with your sound, might just be your ‘pukka’ factor. Tune in to Nooriyah’s full interview on al empire here.