Butikat بوتيكات (Boutiques) Sheikh Imam

This song is Ahmed Fouad Negm’s satire of the “infitah” era under President Sadat, when economic liberalization created many new fortunes, but its benefits were unevenly distributed, and government reforms to “open up” the country seemed to many Egyptians to entail a sinister tradeoff between dignity and prosperity — a sentiment that Fouad Negm gives voice to here. The arrangement and performance is by Fouad Negm’s longtime collaborator Sheikh Imam.

 

Boutiques, schmoutiques بوتيكات النات كوا النات
Furnished apartments and commissions وشقق مفروشه وعمولات
How nice! [1] يا حلاوة الناوة كوا الناوة
O our country and the latest ingenuity يا بلدنا يا أخر فتاكات
Boutiques, schmoutiques بوتيكات النات كوا النات
Your wish is my command, open your mind[2] شبيك لبيك فتح مخك
Your wish is my command, close your eyes لبييك شبيك غمض عينك
Close your mind and we’ll beat you down حتقفل مخك ح نطخك
And we’ll sting you good if you open your eyes ونلوشك لو تفتح عينك
Ride horns [i.e. accept cuckoldry] and you’ll ride in a Mazda ركب قرنين تركب مازدا
And you’ll live like a sultan in that picture frame وتعيش سلطان فى البراوز دا
You don’t like it, it’s rotten cheese for you مش عاجبك فالجبنه الفاسدة
And bread, beans and leeks والعيش والفول والكرات
How nice! يا حلاوه الناوه كوا الناوه
O our country and the latest ingenuity يا بلدنا يا اخر فتاكات
Boutiques, schmoutiques بوتيكات النات كوا النات
Who among you doesn’t know Elewa مين فيكوا ما يعرفش عليوه
The worn-out porter? شيال المينا الكحيان
In an instant, he got funding and was transformed فى ثواني اتمول واتحول
And became the distinguished Monsieur Elewa بقي مسيو عليوه عليان
How? ازاى؟
It’s nothing but an all-night dive ما هى بوظه ومفتوحة
Thanks to sons of bitches على حس ولاد المفضوحه
And millions of pounds from hard bargains [3] وأرانب صاحيه ومدبوحه
Stacked in banks تتأستك تبع البنوكات
How nice! يا حلاوة الناوة كوا الناوة
O our country and the latest ingenuity يا بلدنا يا أخر فتكات
Boutiques, schmoutiques بوتيكات النات كوا النات
You’ll tell me that the poor and their problems حتقولي الفقرا ومشاكلهم
Are issues that need ingenuity دى مسائل عايزة التفانين
My opinion is that we solve it through God’s mysterious ways وانا رأيي نحلها رباني
And kill all the hungry ونموّت كل الجعانين
That way, no one will go hungry وبهذا ما حدش ح يجوع
If we announce this project لو نعلن هذا المشروع
And put an end to this issue و ح نقفل هذا الموضوع
Once and for all نهائيا
We’ll live happily ever after ونعيش فى تبات
How nice! يا حلاوة الناوه كوا الناوة
O our country and the latest ingenuity يا بلدنا يا اخر فتكات
Boutiques, schmoutiques بوتيكات النات كوا النات

[1] Besides يا حلاوة, the rest of this line consists of nonsense words that are there just for the rhyme and rhythm.

[2] The phrase شبيك لبيك is what the genie says upon emerging from the lamp in the Arabic version of the Aladdin story.

[3] This line contains several levels of wordplay that can’t be carried over to the English. The word أرنب literally means “rabbit,” but is also slang for “one million Egyptian pounds.” The line as a whole literally translates as “Rabbits alive and slaughtered,” but دبح can also mean to drive a hard bargain or take someone to the cleaners, so أرانب مدبوحة would mean something like “one million pounds obtained from driving a hard bargain.”