Inside a small book café in Maadi a crowd of around 40 gathered on Saturday to hear a speaker who attempted to pinpoint some ways to help Egypt to become a global competitor.
The presentation developed into a conversation with the enthusiastic group of thinkers brainstorming solutions for primary education, Egypt’s capacity to retain talent and society’s micro problems. The event did not have the capacity to produce macro business and sociological policies, but certainly, the rush of questions and solutions produced helped spark ideas.
TEDx, the famous global set of conferences, provides a platform to spread worthy ideas to the community through presenters who have approximately 18 minutes to attempt to enlighten their audience. Around the world, over 6,000 TEDx events have been organised to date since the program was introduced in late 2009.
TEDxCairo is an annual activity with over twenty speakers delivering inspiring talks to a variety of attendees. Throughout our everyday lives intellectual conversations are usually wedged in the gaps in our days like a subway ride or a lunch-break. TEDxLounge provides a physical space for the sole purpose of intellectual conversations.
During the event, economist and writer Mohamed Dahshan shared historical facts, personal experiences and a wide array of information elucidating the gravity of Egypt’s dire economic situation with the crowd. They served to stimulate the minds of the attendees who were able to list a series of factual and statistical problems with the Egyptian economy, and were consequently pushed to find viable solutions.
As a member of the TEDxCairo team, Nadine H. Hafez, explained: “The main aim of the TEDx program is, briefly, spreading worthy ideas. The programme was initiated by TED in 2009 and TEDxCairo’s co-founders obtained the license in early 2010. They were impressed with the idea of TED: a platform where people talk about the most complicated of ideas in a short, appealing, accessible manner. And to top it off, it was all available online for free. So they applied for the license to organise the first TEDxCairo conference, which took place in May 2010. It’s grown since then from an event to a team, to an organisation, to a platform.”
TEDxCairo is one of the very few TEDx organisations in the world that fall under the Level 2 license band, a license awarded to a TEDx organisation after meeting certain criteria, including wide international reach. TEDxCairo is the biggest online TEDx community in the world, with the biggest fan base on social media: fifty thousand followers on Twitter, almost 70,000 fans on Facebook, and more than 1.7 million YouTube views.
Hafez said it has been “fascinating” to see the reaction in Cairo. “Given the range of our talks from science to business to architecture to philosophy, people find themselves surprisingly inspired by ideas from outside their comfort zones and fields of expertise,” she said. “That’s exactly the kind of response we aim at; to convey the message that ideas are very lively and dynamic; they have the potential to present themselves in far more than one field, and you don’t need to be a businessman to understand the value of an idea in a TEDxCairo business talk, and so on. What we aspire to further is to take that enthusiasm about TEDxCairo, and its speakers’ talks and ideas, and create intellectual conversations around them among the community. That is where the idea of the TEDxCairo Lounge came from.”
Hafez explained that the next step is “to focus on sustaining a platform both online and offline for the TEDxCairo community to be constantly engaged on all sorts of ideas and conversations…we will be holding TEDxlounge periodically.”
No doubt that this event provided a much-needed platform and a suitable medium to encourage the conception of thoughts and ideas. The solutions for problems faced everyday can be discussed, reformed and maybe one day applied, making our lives and the lives of those around us better.