If you were following my tweets on Thursday December 2nd you'd know that I was attending one of the most exciting entertaining and educational events that can take place in Saudi Arabia... TEDxArabia which sought to answer the question "What is Innovation" as well as many other questions under the same theme. I was invited as the Social Media Associate to bring the happenings of the event to the twittersphere (I knew my tweeting skills would pay off someday :P); and to spread the knowledge even further I write this post summarizing my experience at TEDxArabia. There were 20 speakers at the event so I won't be going into details for each and every one of them as to not make this lengthy but I will focus on the presentations that I felt were remarkable whether by being exceptionally good... or bad. The event was kicked off by a very enthusiastic and energetic host Aamer Trambu a pretty cool guy as I've come to know by catching up with him after the event. Aamer kept updating us with a series of articles in Saudi Gazette on the TEDxArabia speakers prior to the event and it was great to see his energy during the event too.
The first speech was by Muhannad Abu Diyah and his Thoughts of Gold presentation that invites brilliant Arab minds to pursue their path in innovation and invention. I knew that he previously spoke at TEDxDhahran and I'm glad I caught up with him at TEDxArabia. He showcased many new products by young Arab inventors as a proof that such talents didn't only exist in medieval Islam. He also had a good sense of humor that got the crowd giggling at many points. That was a good start to show the attendees that being smart & succeeding in life doesn't mean you need to be serious 24/7... It'd help more if you can face your challenges with a fun attitude. You'll understand what I mean by *challenges* from the picture of him below with the slide introducing his golden rules to marketing inventions: 1) Evaluate the invention 2) Make a business plan 3) Get a patent 4) Make a prototype 5) Start an enterprise 6) Look for the dream deal!
Jumping to AbdulMohsen AlAjmi's presentation on Social Change one of his memorable quotes was an advice on leveraging the power of social networks that provide free platforms for advertising and spreading the word when it comes to good causes rather than waiting on having the financial means to design and print a brochure or a profile or publish ads in the media. One of the reasons I'm passionate about Social Media is the ability to have your message properly reach your audience without the limitations of money or physical space. Malcolm Gladwell might be right in his opinion that social media might not be the cause of social change but it can certainly be a useful mean.
Next up was the first female speaker of the evening and a real inspiration Dr. Haidy Al Askry with her presentation on the "Challenges of Innovation". What struck so true in her presentation was her slide: "To be an innovator or an enabler... That is the question". She acknowledges that not everyone can be an innovator she admits herself to not being an innovator... But what she can be and what anyone else can choose to be is an enabler. If you can't innovate then help support someone else who does whether financially morally by spreading the word or the least by not being someone who discourages innovation!
For the last presentation before the first break came Ahmed Ghazi... That guy defines what TED is all about a young talent with an idea and an invention truly worth spreading: Goom. What I liked most about his talk other than the fact that his invention is practical smart and very helpful to all those who need a hand to stand up is that despite all those who tried to put him down (as he described them "depressing individuals") he and his team stood up and fought through till their dream came to life.
I felt that this notion prevailed in most of the presentations; all speakers urged innovators not to fall victims for the discouragements of others... It's such a shame that one of the major problems you might face in bringing your innovations to life is those who just want to bring you down. It makes you wonder what kind of society we live in and how far we would have come if more of us were enablers and motivators rather than philosophical envious critics. My thoughts on the other presentations will follow shortly at a later post.