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“TedxCairo is absolutely fantastic” is the initial response of any of the lucky attendees of this great example of outstanding youth empowerment. TEDxCairo (Technology Entertainment and Design) simply and excellently promotes ‘Ideas worth Spreading.’ The breakdown of Technology, Entertainment and Design includes everything from philosophy and poetry to science and media. Egypt’s most inspirational, successful and creative people gather together to share ideas that will always leave you inspired, optimistic and ready to release positive energy.
TEDx was introduced to Egypt by four young guys who decided to teach Egyptian youth how to get inspired from motivational people in their community. People who have an idea, who want it to grow and spread leaving a mark in our lives. There are ideas that will get you inspired, there are some stories that will touch your heart and there are ideas that will trigger the thought that you shouldn’t let go and you are on the right track. The Co-Founders of TEDxCairo are Ahmed Coucha, Bahy Abo El Ezz, Ahmed Abdel Rahman, and Bassem El Hady, whom we met for an interview.
After the revolution, many things have changed and Tedx found it would be the best time to spread more ideas now, “people started to breathe, there is still hope and we’re optimistic despite the fact that our voice isn’t pretty much heard yet, but we’re moving without limits”, Bassem says. Usually, the Tedx format does not talk about religion or politics but some things changed after the revolution, “After the Revolution, it is totally obvious that we could talk freely and we talked politics because of the current events. Here in Cairo, we are responsible for all of our events and TEDxCalifornia doesn’t literally monitor us as they trust us but they are in contact with us for regulations needed and there is no off-putting interferences from their side”, he says.
TedxCairo was absolutely inspirational with funny and witty speakers who managed to trigger all senses, stimulated minds and more importantly brought together so many aspiring people. Among the speakers were Essam Youssef, author of ¼ Gram, Marwa Sharaf, a women’s rights activist as well as the inspiring story of Nada Chatila, a cancer survivor.
Having outstanding speakers in a line-up is not easy and requires lots of effort for all parties involved, “For the idea to reach a certain format, we sit down with the speakers and we ask them why do they think that their idea worth spreading, why are they the best people to talk about this idea, how did they work on this idea to come to light, and what’s their relationship with the idea. We write the script until we come up with an idea. We connect with people via twitter, Facebook and our blog. This year, we had 100 applicants and we chose 5 or 6 out of them”, Bassem tells us, “The speaker writes the script and the team guides and consults the speaker. Every idea must be different, shouldn’t be boring and the body should be funny yet informative”.
As we are living in exciting times, TedxCairo is very keyed up towards the upcoming phase “in 10 years we want to be the knowledge center in the Middle East through TEDxCairo and other initiatives. We want to create cultural discussions, instead of waiting for annual events, maybe monthly discussions with speakers. We have some interesting and potential projects with AUC and ONTV but haven’t officially announced this yet”, he adds.
A downside is that less privileged communities who are in dire need of inspiration do not have access to Tedx, so every now and then the team tries to reach out to the other side of the tracks, “We should agree on one thing, that the audience who attend should have the mentality to understand TED, to listen to a speaker for 15 minutes and the whole idea of ‘how to get inspired’”, he points out, “We do partnerships with NGOS like Ashouka Social Entrepreneurship to reach other communities. As a result of the country’s unrest, the Annual Book Fair was cancelled and Sour El Azbakeya was a simulation for it as there are people who get an income out of The Annual Book Fair and there had to be a simulation for it, so TEDxCairo promoted for it. We brought Ahmed El Esseily who did a book signing session and that was a part of TEDx participation. After the Revolution, we did a Positivity Campaign to promote for positive actions after revolution that enhanced people’s interaction with each other and encouraged people not to throw garbage on streets. I would like to say that we are very interested to interact with the community with possible initiatives and campaigns to reach more people and interact”.
“Every year at TEDxCairo we get inspired by the audience, we get inspired by the sponsors and talks. We thought our challenge would be finding inspiring people, then we realized that all these brilliant minds surround us here in Egypt. Women like Rana El Aliouby, an Egyptian researcher who created an application to aide autistic people. Inventors like Haitham Abdel Fadil, who created a search engine that competes with Google or Amr Ramadan, whose iPad application ranked top on iTunes. So many people made us even more passionate about TED, our community, Egypt and there is yet so much to be discovered”, Bassem excitedly tells.
If you missed the event you can follow TedxCairo on twitter or watch the speaker’s videos online.