I don't exactly have a word to translate it to. But maybe influence? If you're someone who have some kind of status and can change things. For example if you want to get hired by a specific company it will help knowing someone important in the company. This person, or the relation with that person is called "wasta". If no wasta, you get nowhere. Kind of.. You'll probably get where you're trying to go, but it will take a whole lot of more time to get there. I don't really know what I think about "wasta" yet. I mean it's great, of course, IF you have any. If you don't it's terrible and so unfair. So I guess I dislike it but I'm not the one who won't use it. What a hypocrite eh? Sorry for misspelling but my dictionary is no longer with me:)
People here around tell me you have to use shortcuts or you won't get anywhere. Or more honestly, they say you must cheat and lie or you won't get anything(anything as in any money)... Well I do understand why some people feel that way, but Iam not going to cheat or lie to get my way. And I don't care much about money. I don't need to be rich or have lots of money in my pocket or bank account. I just want enough of it to put food on the table everyday, somewhere to live and somewhere to go if, inshallah not, someone of us needs medical attention.
I strongly believe that being honest and straight forward is the best way to live. It might be difficult at some times, and you might not get what you want. But have faith and trust in God and he will reward you in this life and/or in the hereafter, inshallah. BUT Iam going to surf on the wave of "wasta" for a little bit longer.