Tuesday, 7 December 2010

TEDxDubai - Ideas Worth Spreadin'

TEDxDubai was held on Saturday 4th December in Dubai, with a collection of speakers sharing their ideas,,

Just a bit of history on TED, it stands for Technology Entertainment and Design, in short it is a conference where speakers are given an 18 min window to share their ideas under an umbrella of "ideas worth spreading", to leverage on the power of ideas to change the world.

TEDx is a program that enables schools, universities, businesses or individuals to have a TED-like experience by themselves hosting, organizing and designing the event.

This year's TEDxDubai in its 2nd edition built on further on last year's success, i'll be sharing my experience at the events and highlighting the points that i saw positive and the areas where work is needed...

The event registration was done by filling a form online and being selected for the event, then receiving a digital barcode as a confirmation! A green approach to a paperless registration and entrance, very well done indeed, i do hope to see this being picked up by others soon, makes it so easy, and avoids losing your ticket ;)

The goodie bag was differently thought of as well, it was a specially designed scarf for TEDxDubai, tied to form a loose handbag, with a note pad inside, indeed a nice touch, and was worn differently by the attendees, some held it as a bag, others as scarfs, others as a headband, i tied it to my backpack :p ... 

The wristband also was designed differently, with a clip on mechanism, and made of cloth instead of those annoying rubber or plastic ones which you must rip off after an event,, this was a nice keepsake, as well as your key to get into the after party at ARMANI/privee later in the evening.

This year's event was titled REBOOT, and as per the TEDxDubai blog (http://tedxdubai.com/blog/tedxdubai-2010-reboot/), it revolved around

The list of speakers consisted of the following: (Read More) 

- Elham Qasimi (@PolarBent) "Everything but Physical", the first Arab woman to set foot on the North Pole, and the first UAE national to undertake an unassisted and unsupported trek across the North Pole. Elham spoke about the ability for people to approach change and embrace it, as well as undertaking new challenges in life and how this affects her surroundings on many levels, a very motivational speech and great opening for the event.

Rating 4/5

- Matt Hoyle (@matthoylephoto) "Perfect Imperfection", an internationally renowned photographer talked about the notion of beauty in portraits (his speciality) from the times of Socrates to modern day photoshop. He also showcased his endeavor to seek beauty that goes beyond the definition of the word in his portraits, whether it is through the use of colors, composition, texture or even the Golden Ration of beauty... His speech was interesting in reminding us the beauty basics and how the word's definition or attributes evolve as we do...

Rating 3/5

- Gonan Premfors (@GonamPremfors) "Relationships Rebooted", as a life coach and her studies of human consciousness and relationships, Gonan has developed a philosophy of relationships, named Parentology which can be applied to any culture, religion or nationality. Her speech was kinda, deja-entendu (hear), and did not find much response from the crowd.. an idea not worth sharing...

Rating 2/5

- Sue Gardner (@SueGardner) "The People's Encyclopedia" is the Executive Director of the Wikimedia foundation (which Wikipedia falls under), she showcased the rise of wikipedia, its power as a preferred source for information in the growing information age, the power it holds as the people's encyclopedia where any1 can chip in and share their knowledge not matter the language, how it changed the lives of 5 individuals with their ability to have access to previously missing or hard to come by info,, it sounded a bit like a sales pitch, i wished, like other tweeps, for her to discuss the credibility of the info on the website, the challenges it faces with educational institutions not accepting it as a valid reference in papers and research,,,

Rating 3/5

- Yassin Al Salman a.k.a The Narcicyst (@TheNarcicyst) "Who We Are, When We Were: Identity In Flux" is an Iraqi hip hop artist, born in Basra, Iraq and raised between Dubai and Montreal, he spoke about the importance of identity, heritage and the evolution of one's identity in this global world. His presentation was a mix of a speech bundled with performance bits of three of his songs with live band (violins, cello, harp, sax and DJ). The speech was full of music and colors through the pics he shared, and the beautiful images through his words, with a memorable
Highly Intellectual People Hovering Over Politicans  - That's his Hip Hop !!

Never forget where you come from, and where you made yourself, we are citizens of the world.

Rating 4.5/5

- James Piecowye (JamesEd_me) "Freezing Ideas and Other Lessons From The Desert", is a teacher at Zayed university, a radio presenter on 103.8 FM and the co-organizer of TEDxDubai. James mentioned his ideation cirriculum of classes at Zayed university to showcase the power of freezing ideas. Sometimes we have this great idea and just run with it, where we should actually stop, freeze it, and look it, let others look at it, touch it, experiment, to finally be able to light the fuse on this idea and make it explode with glory. James was all over the place with energy and proved to be entertaining the crowd with his zeal over his presentation.

Rating 3.5/5

- Jason Vale (@juicemaster) "One Disease - One Solution", a health Guru who talked about the fact that the universal disease is us not taking care of ourself, of our shrine, the body. He demonstrated that through the use of a goldfish toy in a water tanks and pouring everything we consume, from coffee, to soda, to veggy oil, to pills we take to solve our health issues on the short term like bloating, headaches and such without tackling the real issue which is our consumption habits...
"If you don't take care of your body, you won't have anywhere to live"

Rating 3/5

- Sheena Matheiken (@UniformProject)"The Uniform Project", is an Irish born, Indian raised, resident of NYC, she presented her story of reaching out to kids in her homeland of India, and be able to help the poorer ones to get an education. Sheena created the platform Uniform Project, in which she would wear one little black dress for 365 days in order to raise $$ for her cause. The conditions were that she should wear it differently everyday, and no alterations or accessories can be bought, only recycled, old, vintage items are to be used. Her story showcased the power of social media and the culture of online users, with them donating accessories for her to wear, spreading her message across various platforms and helping out with the $$. By the end of the year she was able to raise enough money to put 300 kids in school. Next step is 1 dress, 1 month, 1 cause, where the platform is opened to the public for them to promote their cause for a month through the same process of one item of clothing.

Rating 4/5

- Nicholas Sykes (@NicholasSykes) "Biomimicry 2.0"an ADD Biology teacher turned his eyes onto engineering and construction. Nicholas talked about revisiting nature's successful designs to help us better ourselves, whether it was through better building designs, better communication techniques, better presentations, better technologies. Nicholas reminded us that nature has a log book of over 400 million years worth of trial and error learnings, evolution and successful designs!!

Rating 3.5/5

- Mohammed Abedin (@moabedin) "New Beginnings", a half Emarati and half Thai ball of energy, Mo spoke about his trials and experiences as a rising entrepreneur with his designer toy project "MEGA". This was one of the most lively presentation with lots of humor in it; especially with the clever use of an interactive presentation, where Mo's emotions throughout his story was translated through a doodle of himself in the presentation. Moe reminded us of the hardships of starting up from scratch and the funny things you experience along the way, and that is worth jumping with both feet at new beginnings.

Rating 4/5

- Monja Wolf (www.monyati.com) "Transition Into Social Development", standing on the balcony of a palace overlooking Jaipur City, wearing a designer dress, then model Monja realized how this dress is capable of providing food, electricity and education to hundreds of home in the city. It hit her, a transition was in order, ciao photographers and glamour, hello volunteers and hardships. Monja has set up an organization called Monyati (in arabic, a small wish close to the heart), supporting those who live at work by specializing in strategy and project development for NGO's. Monja gave out some of the successful cases the organization had and the classic per n post, sad n happy pics. It was nice to see som1 moving from the world of glamour into charity and well doing, but to be honest, it was an idea already spread long ago,,,

Rating 2.5/5

- T Chendil Kumar (@Chendilk) "Unleash Your Humor Quotient", Engineer turned public speaker at 45, Chendil followed his passion for public speaking and his funny side to help out people with overcoming trying moment while speaking publicly, essentially using humor. Chendil was a funny man, his accent really, and gave us some tips on how to use humor more efficiently.

Rating 3/5

- Patricia Ryan "Mind Your Language" is a veteran teacher, of more than 30 years, in the Gulf, teaching English!! one of the first christians to set foot in Kuwait 30 years ago, Patricia has witnessed the evolution of the English language in the region here and around the world. She mainly reminded us that this universal language should not be a barrier for education, business, technology or even communication. We have been reminded by her that a language dies every 14 days in the world (dunno how this is measured :s hmmm), we are now left with only over 600 languages from more than 4,000 ones since our taking over this world. Teaching English has become a universal multibillion industry, which should be brought back to its route to be educational and not commercial, the future is translation!
A perfect quote by Patricia to end her speech, followed by a deserved standing ovation, one of the best that day
"Full many a flower is born to blush unseen and waste its sweetness on the desert air"

Mind your language, use it to spread ideas!

Rating 4.5/5

- Tala Badri (@TalaBadri) "Happiness in F Major", is the first Emarati to have a degree in music. Faced with no work with her degree after coming back to the UAE, Tala pursued a management degree and then dove into the corporate world. Her daughter Sara's diagnosis with Asperger syndrome, changed Tala's life after hearing that music therapy might be a solution to ease her daughter's life. Tala founded the Center for Musical Arts after quitting her job, and vowed to offer music to all walks of life. Sara has responded well with treatment and Tala found her passion again.

Rating 2.5/5

- Steve Sosebbe (www.pcrf.net) "The Power Of Positive Action" Co-founder and president of Palestine Children's Relief Fund, talks about his experience as a journalist helping out a triple amputee, Mansour in 1990, sparking his passion for helping others. Nice inspirational speech with well spoken quotes spreading a cloud of mushiness over the crowd.
"The best way to overcome the pain life's hardships is to help others overcome theirs"
"We have  responsibility to have a positive impact on the world"
"Heart broken but never spirit broken, we have a responsibility to work and not nag"
"Helping others helps you heal yourself"

Rating 3/5

- Mishaal Al Gergawi (@algergawi) "The Republic of I and The Federation That Is Us", the Emarati columnist used his 18 mins to inspire his fellow Emaratis and expats to rise up from the dust, collect the rubble and start over again towards building a better prouder federation.

Rating 2/5

some extra thoughts on the event:

- Surprised with the presence of the local Emarati community, its good to see Emaratis getting involved and attending such events, and being part of the web's social cloud.
- Speaker line up could have been better, no striking personas that you wouldn't meet anywhere else, as a good friend puts it.
- Shoud've put a slideshow screen with attendees avatars and handles, making the networking experience more interesting, an idae worth spreadin' ;)
- DJ Bliss (@DJBLISS) is one hell of a host, super funny and quick on his feet and tongue!
- The Twitter Chair was a kick ass touch, where attendees were picked and sometimes asked to come sit on a red velvet chair on stage, and tweet the speaker's 18 mins spot.
- The speakers did not all work or fell under the ReBoot umbrella of the event, and very few had ideas worth spreading..
- i was not a fan of the extra charity-humane feel the event carried with most speakers touching on this point, i feel it like an emotional hijack of the audience's emotions for better standing ovations, but hey that only my two cents, no offense to any of the speakers, on the contrary i value their opinions, impressed with their work, inspired by them :)

Till next year, ReBoot yourself!!

P.S: tweeps, do share your opinions on the event :D
P.P.S: rating has been based on level of interest i had with the speeches, crowd interaction, presentation skills, subject matter and presentation itself.


Follow me on Twitter.com/@Alexi13

That's my buttermint for the day.


  1. The "Sax" on The Narcicyst's slot at TEDxDubai was a "trumpet" - I was guilty!

  2. hhahah ooops, my mistake then!!