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Powered by, one of the most popular daily English language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates.

Conference set to bring creative minds together

08/15/2009 06:40 PM

Dubai: About 1,000 people are expected to attend the TEDx conference in October, the largest independently organised event in the Middle East bringing together leading thinkers.

Originating in Longbeach, California, the annual TED conference initially enabled experts in technology, entertainment and design to share ideas.

Over the years the calibre of speakers has improved and the subjects have grown to include business, science and music. Speakers are given 18 minutes.

Some of the big names who have attended the conference include Bill Gates, Michelle Obama, Yann Arthus Bertrand, Gordon Brown, Malcolm Gladwell, and J.J. Abrams.

TED has created a self-organised programme called TEDx for independent events to be held around the world.

"It will be a one day event. Audience capacity will be between 800 to 1,000. People should come who are really interested&," said Giorgio Ungania, head of commercial services, SAE Institute, joint organiser of the local event.

"We are huge fans," said Ungania at a recent gathering for TEDx enthusiasts and volunteers at Traffic gallery in Al Barsha.

Anyone who wishes to attend should fill out a questionnaire expressing their interest, through an online application, he said.

By logging on to the main conference website, visitors can browse through hundreds of imaginative, sometimes funny and mostly inspiring presentations.

A TEDGlobal conference is now also held in Oxford, UK and after Dubai, another will be held in India in November.

Fresh additions to the website from the recent Oxford conference held last month include engineer Micheal Pritchard's lifesaver water purification bottles which can make the "most revolting water, drinkable in seconds", thanks in part to nano-technology.

Alain de Botton puts a fun and witty case forward on failure and success and how to find pleasure in work.

One can also link to a talk by Aimee Mullins about her prosthetic legs. Mullins is a 1996 Paralympic Games record breaker, model, actress and women's activist.

"If we can get a farmer to speak because he has an interesting story to share with the world, we will give him the stage. We want to give people the chance to speak who don't normally get the chance to speak at conferences," said Ungania.

Translators will be available throughout the event.

"We are really looking for people from Dubai and the Middle East. There will be some big international names to create a buzz but we need people from here to speak as well. I am sure that people from Canada, Argentina and even the US would be very interested to know how many amazing projects Dubai people are involved with."

One of the speakers is Leo Laporte, a web expert and technology podcaster.

James Piecowye, communications professor at Zayed University and a radio show host, who is the co-organiser, said they are keen to receive any suggestions while the final selections of speakers are made.

"No products, only ideas", is the criterion.

More information available online
Check out and for more information. Join the online community or give ideas and suggestions. Translators and volunteers can also log on if they can donate time.
- E.L.


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