Saint Levant’s New Album Is an Ode to Palestine

By Ali Ahsan

Marwan Abdelhamid, aka Saint Levant, released his highly anticipated second album, Deira, on June 7th. Coming on the heels of an electric performance at Coachella this year, the new release solidifies the 23-year-old’s growing presence.

Deira reflects Saint Levant’s multicultural upbringing in Palestine and Jordan to a Palestinian-Serbian father and an Algerian-French mother. “DEIRA embodies multiple journeys for me,” said Saint Levant. “The project’s title evokes a hotel overlooking the sea in Al-Rimal, Gaza City, designed and operated by my father since 2001. Al Deira Hotel was one of the most beautiful structures in the city and the place I called home as a child – it has since been destroyed by IDF bombings in late 2023. Through the visual language of the project, the hotel is imagined as a locale of return: a destination where I will return to; a landmark symbolizing a free Palestine.”

The album, almost entirely produced by Moroccan producer Khalil Cherradi, showcases the multilingual singer seamlessly blending French, English, and Arabic lyrics with North African melodies, Arab percussive rhythms, and contemporary pop into a sound that is certainly multicultural and yet — uniquely his own. This fusion of traditional and contemporary sounds produce depth and deliver a powerful energy on tracks like “On This Land”, “Galbi”, and the titular “Deira”. A standout track, “Allah Yihmeeki”, features Kehlani, who has also been a vocal supporter of Palestine (and recently released a music video for her single “Next 2 U”).

“All Palestinian art from the last 75 years, whether Sliman Mansour’s paintings or Ghassan Kanafani’s poetry, always begins before the artist and always at the same point in time: the Nakba of 1948. Since then, the journey of catastrophe, displacement, and exile after 1948 is one every Palestinian continues to take, constantly dreaming of return and using whatever means of resistance along the way until rooted once more on their land,” says Saint Levant. If his first EP, From Gaza, With Love, encapsulates his multicultural identity, then this second album underscores his deep Palestinian roots. And if Deira envisions a return to a free Palestine, then it does so with a defiant and dynamic joie de vivre that will have you on your feet.