A platform by you, and for you

Suhail AlHammady

In the past, if you wanted to showcase your talents, opinions, wisdom, experience and ideas, you would probably seek refuge in the well-known and established platforms: TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, or go an extra step into a live performance. With the introduction of a worldwide global network that goes by the name: Internet – familiar?!-our lives went through a roller coaster of constant changes that allowed us to reach unknown and unoccupied ground – pretty much like a modern-day Columbus! Now, with just a touch of your smart phone screen, you’re a step away from becoming the next sensation, or worldwide phenomenon.

The rapid rise of social media gave an opportunity for the creation of channels that provided a medium for the unique as well as the beautifully “not unique”. YouTube especially, as a part of the holy trilogy of social media, has become a home for many channels of the sort – TEDx is one prime example of a growing channel that became a leading, globally recognized platform for ideas.

Like any great story in life, TED had a humble origin. The giant media organization was the dream realization of Richard Saul Wurman – a designer engineer. It is a presentation of technology, entertainment, and design – from which the acronym (TED) came. The first TED conference was held in 1984 and has become a regular annual event ever since. Before the huge success of TED, there was a period of failure that lasted 6 years, but it all changed in 1990 when the number of the “TEDsters”community rose dramatically. The revenue of the organization, due to the introduction of the platform to the Internet is estimated at around $66.2 million http://[https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/TED_(conference] and TED has become a global event taking place in numerous countries.

Following the traditions of TED of ideas globalization, Yemen was introduced to the concept of “ideas worth spreading” through the massive efforts of a passionate team of local citizens. TEDx Sana’a is an independent, self-organized conference that provides a space for the “inspirational and motivational”. The first TED conference was held in 2012, in Sana’a under the name of “TEDX Kids” after pushing for -and eventually receiving – an application to acquire the certified TED license. Their motto has a plain, yet goal-oriented formula “We aim at exposing the talent, creativity, and ingenuity of Yemenis”. Their prime intention is to bring Yemen onto the international scene as a country inhibited with creative and extraordinary minds and talents, and that Yemen too can make its mark on the fabric of the existence of the world.

Unfortunately, because of the critical situation Yemen is going through and the political whirlwind that swept the country and after a series of successes in events such as “TEDx Kids” and “TEDx TdhamonBank” , the event had to be postponed 4 years before initiating a most recent event “TEDx: The Age of Amazement”.

The event took place in Sana’a city on April 2018 in the University of Science and Technology. It was a manifestation of the will and the struggles of the forgotten, hidden, and undiscovered talents of Yemeni society. The fiesta featured more than 17 performances and talks; the participants rendered their stories and passions on the floor of the stage revealing Yemen’s hidden, ever sparkling gems. Just like its name, the talent on display dominated the event and gave an artistic vibe to the atmosphere with shows of vocal and musical performances, magic, drawing, sculpting, painting and balancing. The speakers dominated -s hocking and awing the audiences with the tales, ideas and morals they brought. “This is Me”, “Made in Yemen”, “The strategic choice” are a few of the inspirational stories highlighted in “TEDxSana’a: The Age of Amazement”.

“It was an endearing experience despite the many obstacles we encountered. We had the vision prior two months of the day, we filed for a permission through proper channels and went through a lot to make it happen” said Hisham Al-Samawi, organizer and voulnteer. “There were a lot of difficulties such as logistic, financial, and technical support – especially live feeding the event which was in itself unprecedented in the country” he continued.

License holder GhassanShamsan and the assistant organizer Naif AlNajm, , say:

“Probably, the most difficulty was the time of the event. The event was carried out on the same day of the burial of the late president Saleh Al-Sammad, and as a result there was a refusal in commencing such conference. There were some “fears and threats ” on the lives of the performers and the audience as well, but in spite of the situation, we managed through the pain, sweat, and blood of the most devoted volunteers and optimistic audiences to make it an event to remember. “Age of Amazement” proved to be the star of all the events that we held; the audience came in numbers exceeding our expectations”.

The efforts  of the team represent the essence of the Yemeni spirit “where there is a will and a motive, there will always be a way”. “The Age of Amazement” managed to counter – at least for a day – a dreadful situation in a country torn by war. TEDx Sana’a has indeed – within the span of few years-became a symbolic event encompassing and embracing those who can’t find a voice to project their emotions and opinions. And in an age of struggle, don’t we all need someone to hear us?