The inaugural TEDxAlQuoz event, set to take place on October 23, will examine our collective future, identifying the ways in which we can contribute to social change on a local, regional and global level.
Held under the theme Humanity and Interdependence, the event is officially licensed by the US non-profit media organisation TED and will take place at Warehouse Four in Al Quoz District between 4pm and 8pm.
The event will feature up to 10 talks from speakers living in the UAE, as well as performances by local and international artists including Emirati singer Arqam.
“The main idea behind the event is very much linked to the theme,” Rihane Hassaine, organiser and curator of the event, tells The National.
Interdependence is the basis of all communities, she says. “And yet, we aren’t so interconnected any more, especially not in big cities.”
The curated talks will highlight topics from environmental risks to economic growth and life-changing technologies, all of which underscore how “interdependence is humanity's greatest asset and bigger risk”.
“TEDxAlQuoz aims to re-explore the meaning of interdependence within society and encourage a reflection on how we can all nurture the spirit that has rooted our modern societies,” Hassaine says.
Produced with the support of the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, the event will be hosted by former Australian Paralympian and disability activist Jessica Smith, whose varied breadth of experience "gives her the insight to connect the different topics that will be presented during the event".
“That’s one of the reasons why we chose her – to tie the talks with her personal story and experiences to some extent. She’s a very inspirational character," Hassaine says.
Speakers taking part in the event include Amanda Rushforth, a sustainable fashion and marine conservation advocate; Saliha Afridi, a clinical psychologist and founder of The LightHouse Arabia; Dareen Barbar, an amputee athlete and holder of the Guinness World Record for longest wall sit; Waleed Shah, an award-winning photographer and author of Rock Your Ugly; survival skills instructor Arnaud Laviolette; filmmaker and activist Lara Lee; memory coach Josh McCartney; and Allaoua Gaham, a martial arts expert and yoga instructor.
Talks will run for 15 minutes each, and will be available online on official TEDx platforms at a later date.
“We made a point to keep our independence in terms of the programme because if you have a sponsor influencing the programme, the videos won’t be released on official TEDx platforms, and you get your licence revoked,” Hassaine says.
Ultimately, the event seems to have moved in TED’s favour, as Hassaine says the media organisation reached out after examining the programme and encouraged her participation in the global conference in December.
The opportunity, she says, means she will be able to attend workshops on how to organise larger TEDx events, hopefully paving the way for future iterations of TEDxAlQuoz.
A former environmental lawyer, Hassaine says she knows first-hand how difficult it is to actually create change, and hopes TEDxAlQuoz will inspire visitors to work for a more collaborative tomorrow.
“The thing that we kept on being told as environmental law students was ‘if you want change, you need to raise awareness’. I didn’t understand that until I started working in the field. You can see it even now with social movements like Black Lives Matter and for Palestine. Raising awareness can create a social movement that can make a big difference in today’s world.”
Tickets to the event will be online soon. More information is available at the official TEDxAlQuoz website