When it comes to flirting, we as Arabs have a unique way of showing it. We have this ‘mar2a3a/dala3,’ or, what we could possibly translate as “fluffy/cute/cheeky” forms of love, that are inherently impossible to imitate. It’s not just the words we use, our body language, or our facial expressions that make our means of flirting unique to us, but it’s this intangible and sassy energy that only a true Arab reading this, could really grasp. And this is exactly what we see in Jordanian rapper/musician Zaid Khaled’s song, ‘Rakeek,’ where he craves for his lover, bouncing between a wild form of sassiness, and a dainty level of ‘mayasa,’ or what we could potentially describe as ‘cutesiness.’ It is through his song, that we come to see this playful dynamic between Arab lovers, so vividly depicted.
The song begins with ‘yalenta ta3ebny banadeelak,’ meaning, ‘hey you, the one who is draining me, I am calling for you.’ Through this contrast, between having been exhausted by someone, yet going for them anyway, we see this stubborn and irrational love between him and his lover that extends itself throughout the song. He continues to say..’erga3ly a7san manageelak,’ or, ‘it’s better you come to me than I come to you.’ And it’s this mischievous interchange that really reveals the means by which Arabs express different forms of interest to one another.
Khaled’s emotions throughout the song bounce between pull and push, a strong craving for his lover, and a frustration for not being able to pursue her, both of which are presented in a frisky manner. He says ‘every day with a new hair color..every day you are away from me..’ in one way indicating the way he notices every little detail about her, and in another, not being able to enjoy these details himself. But it’s not just this conflict that is worthy of note here. It is this playful flirting, in which he shows the way he notices every thing about her, and more so, the way in which he exaggerates his pain in her very absence.
But the tease really discloses itself when he tells her ‘daya3ny wana hala2eek.’ Both subtly and expressively, he explains to her ‘lose me and I will find you,’ and it is this very means of trifling with one’s quirks and details, that serves as the highlight of why we are drawn to the Arab pull. And it gets even better. ‘Seeb watmasak feek,’ meaning ‘let go and I will hold on even harder.’ This perky drama, this sexy and charmingly “possessive” means of expression, are the very traits that set Arab flirtation apart from other cultural forms of it.
‘Bas lessa 7abiby 3aneed, bas lessa 7abiby ba3eed,’ ‘but still my lover is stubborn, but still my lover is far away.’ It is not a shock that Zaid is frustrated with the absence of his love, but he endures it nonetheless and stubbornly continues to tell her just how much he loves her. He even refers to her in male pronouns throughout the song, which is a very absurdly sexy regard to most Arab woman, that no one outside that bound would quite understand. ‘Tet2akhar batwatar batmasmar w basra7 feek…,’ in other words, ‘when you’re late, I get nervous, I get hammered, I get lost in you.’ And in such a romantic, grandiose, expression of love, we again see the playful drama that marks Arab love.
The name of the song, ‘rakeek,’ means short of words, or not enough. And this is exactly the energy behind Arab flirtation, this form of flattery, based both off of exaggerated descriptions, and entitled sassiness. Even this piece on its own, is insufficient to render what it really means to flirt or to be flirted with by an Arab. It is a tease, a push and pull, and most of all, a connection that is only short of words, because no words can extend their lengths to its description.
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