Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, attended the opening of the TEDinArabic Summit – the first of its kind in the Middle East, organised through a partnership between Qatar Foundation and TED that is dedicated to amplifying ideas in Arabic on a global scale.
Sheikha Moza also toured the interactive spaces and Arabic stations at the summit, together with HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO on Qatar Foundation.
Under the theme The Butterfly Effect, the opening of the two-day Summit at Qatar National Convention Centre was also attended by a number of dignitaries, and an audience of thousands who listened to a series of talks in Arabic from TED speakers from the Arab world, explored the event’s interactive Discovery Sessions, and exchanged ideas and stories.
Giving a keynote speech on the first day of the Summit, Moza Al Hajri, a student at Qatar Foundation (QF) partner university Georgetown University in Qatar and a participant in QF’s QatarDebate, said: “We meet today as people with different specializations, cultures, identities, and dialects, with different preferences in music, literature, art, and poetry, and different political and intellectual views.
“But today, we all choose to be united by the Arabic language. We choose to listen to each other, and to search for inspiring horizons that bring us together, and for paths that we can follow to move toward a better future.”
The summit’s opening ceremony began with a song specially written for the event, performed by Saudi Arabian artist Alaa Al-Wardi and Qatari singer Aisha Al-Zayani, and another song written by Mohamad Ali Bahri, Arabic Language Program Coordinator at the Translation and Interpreting Institute, part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at QF's Hamad Bin Khalifa University. Its first day also included a performance, inspired by Qatari heritage, from 12 students of QF schools, titled “Epic Poetry in the Modern Era”.
“We are delighted to be welcoming Arabic thinkers with amazing ideas, and people who love the Arabic language, from around the world to this groundbreaking TEDinArabic Summit,” said Machaille Hassan Al-Naimi, Strategic Initiatives Executive Officer, Qatar Foundation.
“The two days of this event capture the essence, the spirit, and the aspirations of TEDinArabic – to provide Arabic speakers everywhere with a platform to amplify their ideas globally, and to showcase to the world how Arabic is a language of innovation, of original thought, and of new knowledge.
“This Summit is a true landmark for the Middle East, and we hope that everyone who experiences its talks, its sessions, its activities, and its opportunities for accessing and exchanging ideas will find themselves being energized and inspired.”
Helen Walters, Head of Curation, TED, said: “TED is thrilled to be in Doha this week for the inaugural TEDinArabic Summit.
“Our three-year partnership with Qatar Foundation has established a platform to showcase the brilliance and innovation of Arabic speakers throughout the region. We could not be more proud of the diverse lineup of speakers, reflecting as it does TED’s longtime curation philosophy celebrating the power and beauty of interdisciplinary thinking and unexpected connections.”
TED speakers who shared their stories on the first day included Mahdi Mansour, a physicist and poet from Lebanon; Rafia Al-Talei, a journalist and women's advocate from Oman; Ahmad Habib, a writer and accessibility specialist from Iraq; Amr Ramadan, a climate justice advocate from Egypt; and Belal Khaled, a Palestinian artist and activist.
Over the course of the Summit, which continues on 19 March, its international audience are exploring activities, workshops, experiences, and talks – all in Arabic - on themes including creativity, language, science, and discovery, as well as artistic performances. Reflecting QF and TED’s emphasis on inclusivity, talks at the TEDinArabic Summit come with Arabic sign language, as well as English translation.
The summit is being held with the support of partners including Qatar Museums’ Years of Culture initiative – which provided a grant enabling young people from across the Arab world to attend the event - Tasweer, Alif Stores, Doha Film Institute, Geekdom, QF’s Doha Debates, the Generation Amazing Foundation, Enbat, QINWAN, and Al Jazeera Media Network’s AJ+ platform.
It is a milestone in a three-year partnership between QF and TED which has provided a platform for new and inspiring ideas in Arabic to be shared with the world, and which aims to nurture a new culture of idea generation in the Middle East and North Africa.
Under this partnership, TEDinArabic regional events have also been held in Qatar, Jordan, and Morocco, while a digital vault of TEDinArabic content that includes blogs, videos, and TED Talks has been created.