Our Arabic stories and experiences are making their mark on the world, TEDinArabic summit told

Our Arabic stories and experiences are making their mark on the world, TEDinArabic summit told

QLNews
By QLNews

The curtain has come down on the first TEDinArabic Summit – held in Doha through a partnership between Qatar Foundation and TED – with its audience hearing how having a platform for ideas and experiences to be shared in Arabic is making an impact on the world.

Under the theme The Butterfly Effect, the two-day Summit has seen more than 3,000 attendees listen to talks in Arabic by TED speakers, participate in interactive workshops, and experience the event’s Arabic stations and social spaces – all with the aim of amplifying ideas in Arabic.

The closing session of the Summit – attended by Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation – saw Algerian journalist Amal Arrab tell the audience: “This Summit has brought us together for two days in which we have felt the impact of ideas and experiences expressed through Arab voices.

“Most importantly, our stories and experiences may differ in their features, but they are similar in their impact, no matter how small that impact may seem to our eyes. There is no doubt that they are making a great change to the world around us.”

In a discussion with Arrab during the closing session, Olympic swimmer and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Yusra Mardini spoke about how the ability of refugees to be self-reliant can be enhanced. In 2015, she fled Syria during the country’s revolution, reaching Greece by sea after traveling through Lebanon and Turkey – with she, her sister, and two other refugees swimming to push the boat to safety with 20 other people aboard when its engine failed.

She later competed at the 2016 Olympic Games as a member of the Refugee Olympic Team, has written her memoirs, and created a foundation that allows refugees and at-risk young people to pursue their passions. And she told the TEDinArabic Summit: “Being a refugee is not a choice or an expectation. But we can choose to live our lives as refugees, to surrender and let our circumstances define us, or we can choose to fight for our dreams and use our experiences to inspire others.

“I never thought swimming would bring me peace during the most difficult times of my life, and would become a way for me to represent millions of refugees around the world. But it did, and I will continue to use my voice to stand up for refugees and at-risk youth, because I know how powerful it is when someone believes in you and your potential.”

Speakers on the second day of the Summit included Dr. Ali Al-Rashid, a Qatari engineer, researcher, and expert in the field of Artificial Intelligence and cybersecurity, who recounted how his experiences at the beginning of his career changed his view of the development of AI, and the possibility it might come to dominate human intelligence.

“At the beginning of my career journey, on an airport project, I used to read people’s faces, and I believed that the eye is the window to the soul,” he said. “On the other hand, the process of passenger-checking was one of the most annoying issues to travelers due to overcrowding, so I started thinking about how I could find a solution to this problem.”

Dr. Al-Rashid  researched the possibility of detecting stress through the eye from a medical point of view, and his research confirmed that the eye is a reliable indicator for identifying any type of stress.

“Today, we can develop or innovate anything using AI,” he said. “But we must never forget that AI lacks feelings, which are the main driving force for everything around us, and as long as our feelings are alive, we will always be safe.”

Mohamad Shaker, a Jordanian entrepreneur, founder and CEO of ArabiaWeather, spoke on ‘How can Artificial Intelligence help in treating climate crises?’, focusing on the need for societies to understand the link between climate change, human behavior, and the expansion of cities.

“Using AI, we created a method that can be used to enhance the accuracy of weather forecasting, where we convert all social media posts from video, photos, or text into weather-related data,” he said..

“We then developed a platform through which people can share images, and then we collect and process this using AI techniques to reach more accurate weather results. This is one of dozens of initiatives through which we can use Artificial Intelligence to achieve climate adaptation.”

The final day of the Summit also featured a musical performance by the Lebanese band Ikleel Aljabal, as well as a nostalgia-themed performance of cartoon songs by Tarek Tourgane and family. 

The Summit is a cornerstone of the three-year partnership between QF and TED to establish TEDinArabic, which is enabling ideas and stories from across the Arabic-speaking world to be shared with a global audience. Through TEDinArabic – TED’s first initiative in the Arabic language - three regional events have been hosted in Qatar, Jordan, and Morocco, while a digital platform has also been created to act as a vault of TEDinArabic content, including blogs, videos, and TED Talks.

Partners who supported the TEDinArabic Summit include 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. QF’s Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra collaborated for the musical performance at the Summit’s opening ceremony.

For more information about TEDinArabic, click here.

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