Global Issues

From Arab sci-fi to war zone survival tips: Highlights from TED@Doha

Posted by:


This spring, TED headed on the road, visiting 14 cities across six continents on the hunt for untapped talent. The idea behind the sweeping search: to let you, the TED community, weigh in and vote on which speakers you’d like to see ascend the stage at TED2013. After holding one-night salons in Amsterdam, Bangalore, Doha, Johannesburg, London, Nairobi, New York, São Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, Tokyo, Tunis and Vancouver, we couldn’t help but notice that every city’s event had its own unique flavor. And so we’ve asked one audience member from each stop along on the tour to share their memories.

Today, we asked audience member Areej Mehdi of Lahore, Pakistan, to tell us about her experience at TED@Doha, the very first salon, which took place on April 17.

Areej, what three adjectives would you use to describe the event?

Well organized, rejuvenating and versatile. The ambience inside the venue and the infectious enthusiasm of the speakers on stage was so impressive.

Who were the must-see speakers of the night, who you hope TED fans will watch on the TED Talent Search website?

Muqeem Khan. Muqeem talked about the need for technology that helps people get a better understanding of their cultural heritage. I understand his concerns behind the development of this technology because I have parents who tell me the same thing every other day. I especially loved the idea of doing calligraphy with your whole body. How genius is that!

Yasser Bahjatt. Points for the literary references he gave. His talk about Arab sci-fi was engaging and well-delivered. I work with books and strongly believe that imaginative literature is the missing component to unlocking the true potential of not only the Middle East but also the sub-continent.

Matt Gorbet. His collaborative artwork was beautiful. The idea of using technology beyond its intended use by enlisting the help of artists is not revolutionary – but why haven’t more people thought about doing the same? His words about one of the collaborations — about it being “between the community and the sun” — were heartfelt.

Rosie Garthwaite. Even though the initial few minutes of Rosie’s talk seemed more like ramblings, the content was very relevant to our times. Listening to a woman who has experienced war and then gone on to write a checklist of sorts, is very relatable, especially considering most of these “How to Avoid” guides are written by men. The part about wearing the fake wedding ring was amusing because sometimes I do the same (even though I don’t live in a war zone). She definitely piqued my interest.

Christine Corbett. Christine’s talk approached the issue of sexual assault and I liked how she was focused on providing a solution, rather than recounting a victim account. The best part about her solution is the fact that the app actually encourages the strengthening of human connections. Perhaps the next step for Corbett and her team could be to develop an app that works on mobile devices that aren’t smart phones?

What was the best moment of the night? 

Muqeem Khan’s funny and engaging attempts at dancing on stage brought the dome alive. We even had people from the audience geared up to dance!

Which speaker from the night do you want to be your new best friend? 

Definitely Rosie Garthwaite. I have an abnormal interest in the often-referred-to onset of a zombie apocalypse. Being best friends with Rosie would not only be interesting in terms of finally being able to talk to someone about warnomics of a zombie war but also I imagine my chances of surviving such a situation would be upped if I keep Rosie by my side.

Stayed tuned for more audience impressions of TED Talent Search events, coming at you over the next month.