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Sunday, April 17, 2011

TedxRamallah VCed in 20 cities including Gaza

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences -- the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TED Global conference in Edinburgh UK each summer -- TED includes the award-winning TED Talks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.

TED became so vital and desired that it started making small events like in Kenya and huge ones like in Berlin and the recent one in Ramallah.

TEDx = TED + x and the x= Independently Organized TED Event.

TEDxRamallah held a very successful event in Ramallah on April 16 -2011, this event was video conferenced in 20 cities across the world including here in Gaza. The preparations and organization skills were both impeccable and impressing coming from a person who attends many events here in Gaza, TedxRamallah Gaza VC was a huge, unique and successful hit. Facing little technical errors is something you cant escape in Gaza due to low electric power and internet fluidity.

TedxRamallah showcased a broad rangeof inspirational speakers, they were either Palestinian or Pro-Palestinian. Here is the complete list of speakers and hosts:

Suad Amiry: a Palestinian architect, author of "Sharon and my Mother in-Law: Ramallah Diaries" and the founder and director of RIWAQ (a non–profit organization dedicated to restoring Palestinian buildings). She spoke about her book and inspiring life experiences that made her end up as a writer when she turned 50 year old.

Jamil Abu Wardeh: believes in the community-building power of a shared laugh -- especially in Arabic. He jumpstarted the Dubai standup comedy scene and produced the Axis of Evil Middle East Comedy Tour. He hosted a number of sessions in such a sophisticated funny way.

Julia Bacha: is an award-winning filmmaker who directed and produced Budrus (2009) and co-wrote and edited Jehane Noujaim’s critically acclaimed documentary, Control Room (2004). Julia talked about Budros and the message behind it, how it changed people’s minds and inspired many around the world.

Wael Attili: is co-founder and chief creative officer of Kharabeesh Network. Kharabeesh is a storytelling house for the new Arab generation that aims to place Arab cartoons on the WEP map. Wael is the blogger behind He also founded other online business such as and Wael spoke in such an abstract way that brought us closer to him and his successful experience.

Fadi Ghandour: is the founder and CEO of Aramex, a global logistics and transportation solutions provider. Fadi is passionate about social entrepreneurship and founder of Ruwwad for Development, a private sector-led initiative engaging youth to empower disadvantaged communities. He is a Founding Partner of Maktoob, the world’s largest Arab online community. Fadi spoke about the outstanding initiative of

Alessandro Petti: is an architect and researcher based in Bethlehem. He is the Director of DAAR, an architectural research studio based in Palestine, which combines discourse, urban intervention, education, collective learning, public meetings and legal challenges as a form of political intervention and narration. He co-curated research projects on the contemporary urban condition exhibited in various biennials and museums. He spoke about his experiences and point of views.

Abedalrahman Katanany: was born in 1983 in the same building he now lives in, once a hospital named Gaza Hospital. He graduated from the Lebanese university where he studied Fine Arts. His caricatures were exhibited from 2001 to 2008 in Beirut and a number of European countries of which France, Spain, and Norway. He also exhibited his art work in Lebanon, Malaysia, and France. In 2008, Abedalrahman was awarded a Special Mention at Musee Sursock’s 28th annual “Salon D’Automne” exhibition, followed by an award for creative youth. Abed spoke about the Palestinian refugee camps from his avant garde artistic view.

Gisel Kordestani: is the director of New Business Development at Google for Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region. She joined Google in 2003, and played an early role in developing the company’s global commercial systems, strategies and partnerships. Through her studies, Gisel examined reconstruction efforts in Beirut following the Lebanese civil war. She has worked and traveled in over 70 countries. Gisel spoke about the importance of social media nowadays, how empowering it is, what impact it has and how she helped make it happen in many countries specially those which are considered as “war zones”.

Laila Atshan: is a psychosocial counselor working with Palestinians afflicted by the Israeli occupation. She is a consultant for UNICEF and other international organizations. Some of her recent assignments include training UNICEF staff working in the Darfur conflict zone and training Iraqi university professors in promotion and implementation of human rights in the context of conflict. Laila's blindness has allowed her to transcend limitations; she is an avid swimmer, horseback-rider, musician, and world traveler. Leila illustrated such a sense humor that rubbed in every listener, she ran her stories across in such an interesting way that left listeners wanting more.

Steve Sosebee: is the founder and CEO of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF). The PCRF is one of the most effective medical and humanitarian non-profit organizations working in the Middle East today. By founding it, Steve has made a difference to the lives of thousands of children (3,000 children just in 2008), by helping them obtain expert medical tests, evaluations and screenings, and surgery or treatment for free. He has worked and lived in Palestine since the first intifada. He is the proud father of two daughters, Deema and Jenna. Steve shared some stories of his successful attempt to help Palestinian children with the help of internationals around the world, he also shared a success story of a Palestinian little girl who had a brain tumor and is now completely cured.

DAM: is the first Palestinian hip hop crew and among the first to rap in Arabic, began working together in the late 1990s. Ten years of performing all over the world has strengthened DAM’s commitment to provide the youth of their city - Lyd - and neighboring communities with programs and opportunities that have otherwise been denied to Palestinian citizens of Israel. In addition, they have conducted workshops for young people from the West Bank to the US, Canada, and Europe. DAM ignited life into the attendees and listeners, they brought everyone to clap and sing.

Zeina Barhoum: born 1984, is a classically trained Jordanian Soprano of Palestinian origin, started singing in 1997 in the school choir. In October 2008, Zeina attended a course in voice at Accademia Di Santa Cecilia in Rome. During the course, she did private vocal training with Signora Alberta Valentini and Signor Walter Alberti. In March 2010, Zeina received a scholarship supported by The Peace and Prosperity Trust and A.M. Qattan Foundation. Zeina is currently recording for her first album. Hosted some the sessions from Amman with such a remarkable smile.

Sheerin Al Araj: was born and raised in Al Walajeh, Palestine. She studied political science at An Najah National university in Nablus. In 2008 she joined the United Nations' mission in Darfur as a human rights officer. In 2010 things developed dramatically in the village with the construction of the apartheid wall. She then took the decision to quit her job to return to Al Walajeh. Shereen managed to get the attention from everyone, she is a true inspirational Palestinian women that brought a new meaning to resistance “Sumood”.

Mohammad Khatib: is a Palestinian refugee who grew up in Arroub Camp originally from a village called Qastina. Mohammad worked as a web developer intern at Google, after which he co-founded Bazinga! a startup catalyst and a tech hub in Ramallah. He co-developed an android application in solidarity with current rise of the Egyptian people. Muhamed gave all Palestinian students hope and showed them that with studying, hard work and determination everything is possible to be achieved.

Afaf Shawwa Bibi: is a communications trainer and consultant. She has coached professionals from various industries on: presenting, sales skills, email and phone communication, business writing, teamwork, meeting management and intercultural communication. She produced and acted in “Sharon and My Mother-in-Law,” her stage adaptation of Suad Amiry’s hit book by the same name, in Beirut and Amman. Afaf was the host from Lebanon, she presented Amal Chahabi.

Huwaida Arraf: is a Palestinian lawyer with American and Israeli citizenship. In 2001 Huwaida co-founded the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.Huwaida is currently the Chairperson of the Free Gaza Movement. Since August 2008, she has led 5 successful sea voyages to the Gaza Strip. She was one of the primary organizers of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in May 2010. Huwaida payed a tribute to Vittorio Arrigoni, the ISM volunteer and International journalist who was kidnapped and killed in Gaza 2 days ago. Huwaida also showed a great deal of strength when she continued hosting sessions with a huge smile.

Sam Bahour: is specialized in business development with a niche focus on the information technology sector and start-ups. Sam was instrumental in the establishment of the Palestine Telecommunications Company and the PLAZA Shopping Center and until recently served as a Board of Trustees member at Birzeit University. He writes frequently on Palestinian affairs and is is co-editor of HOMELAND: Oral History of Palestine and Palestinians. He blogs at Sam shared his experience of moving from USA to his homeland and how the occupation gave him a hard time for choosing to go back to his home in Al-Bereh.

Amal Chahabi: is a Palestinian refugee born in Ain el Helwe camp in 1961. Amal is currently heading the the Amal Center for the elderly in Ain el Helwe refugee camp along with her active role in the women’s anti-abuse program lead by the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA). Amal tells her marking story of her detention during the Israeli invasion of south Lebanon in 1982 in Danah Abu Rahmeh’s documentary “Kingdom or Women”. Amal shared her story of resisting for her country in Lebanon, how she got imprisoned, how her life changed after prison and the truly inspiring story of her disabled son who went from committing suicide to an athletic icon in Lebanon.

Adam Shapiro: is a documentary filmmaker, human rights defender and Palestinian rights activist. His last film was a documentary series on Palestinians around the world called “Chronicles of a Refugee”. His current film is about the occupied Jolan. Adam was a co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement in Palestine and led a solidarity delegation to Lebanon during the 2006 War.

Aroub Soubh: studied Fine Arts and worked in media with a special focus on children and youth. She created, produced and presented the TV program “Waqet Al Farah” for which she won the Golden Award for Best Children’s Program at the Cairo Radio and Television Festival in 1997. Aroub is now part of a team of experts realizing the first independent Jordanian TV channel.

Munir Fasheh: studied and taught math for many years; got his doctorate from Harvard in education and worked in Birzeit University. During the first Palestinian intifada (late 1980s), he left academia and established Tamer Institute for Community Education, which revolved around protecting and providing “learning environments”. In 1997, he established the Arab Education Forum within Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Munir talked about the instituted system, Instituted education and how life’s knowledge can be sometimes more beneficial than MB degress.

Khaled Al Sabawi: is the first certified Geothermal Engineer in the Middle East. He is the Founder and President of MENA Geothermal, a Palestinian green energy business. MENA Geothermal was awarded the National Energy Globe Award in 2008 and is currently installing the largest geothermal system in the Middle East, in Jordan. Khaled was the first to bring the Geothermal Green system to Palestine, successful systems have been already implemented in the west bank.

Rim Banna: is a Palestinian singer, lyricist and composer, born in Nazareth in The Galilee. Rim studied music and singing in the High Institute for Music “GNESINS” in Moscow (USSR), and specialized in modern singing and conducting singing ensembles. She works on composing music and participates in different Palestinian, regional and International concerts and festivals, where she represents the Palestinian voice and the Palestinian song. Rim started by saluting everyone even those listening to her in Gaza which caused a very loud applause, Rim sang “Ya Leil ma atwalak” as a tribute to Juliano Mer Khamis (Jenin Freedom Theatre founder) and vittorio Arrigoni (ISM volunteer in Gaza and an international journalist).

Raja Shehade: is by profession a lawyer who founded Al Haq (Law in the Service of Man), a non-partisan, West Bank affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists. In 2008 he was awarded the prestigious Orwell Prize for his acclaimed book Palestinian Walks. The book describes over two decades of turmoil and change in the Middle East, steered via the history-soaked landscape of Palestine. His latest book is “A Rift in Time, Travels with my Ottoman Uncle “. Raja spoke about law and how he built Al Haq center and then followed his passion to writing.

Mark Gonzales: Poet. Scholar. Lover of Life. Mark Gonzales is an HBO Def Poet with a Master’s in Education, a Mexican and a Muslim, a Khalil Gibran meets Pablo Neruda in a lyrical break dance cypher. He transcends citizenship identity to break borders and wage beauty across continents through culture. He is respected internationally for his creative approaches to suicide prevention, human rights and human development via performance, photojournalism, and narrative therapy. Mark’s unconventional art and way of expressing his poetry caught the attention of all listeners, he got a loud applause too.

Alice Walker: is world renown for her fiction, poetry, essays, and human rights activism. Her fiction, in particular her novels, have established her as a canonical figure in American letters, as well as a major figure in what scholars term the renaissance in African American women’s writings of the 1970s. In 1982 Alice published The Color Purple, now a classic of American literature, for which she was awarded the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction - the first African American woman writer to receive this award. Alice shed a light on her visits to Palestine (West Bank and Gaza), how she is constantly interrogated when she applies to enter the west bank and her thoughts of supporting Palestine.

Saleh Abdel Jawad: is Dean of Faculty of Law and Public administration at Birzeit University. Political Science Associate Professor at Political Science department where he has been teaching since 1982. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Paris-X (Nanterre) in 1986. Saleh is co-founder with Samia Botmeh of Shat-ha hiking group since February 2006. Saleh took us on a journey through Jordan valley and the west bank reading from his personal memoir.

Mohamed El Dahshan: is an economist and writer. Mohamed has maintained his blog as (semi-)anonymous until the end of the January 25th 2011 revolution in Egypt, in which he took part from day one. He has live-reported the revolution for social and traditional media. Mohammed spoke about the social network and its major role in Egypt’s revolt, he thanked the Palestinians for participating and helping Egyptians get the info across and shared some personal photos of tahrir revolution.

The event was long but Gazans were far from tired, instead they were asking for more. We were inspired and we dared to be ambitious enough to dream of one day hosting TedxGaza and video conference it to reach Ramallah and other cities of the world. It was such a rich and informative event that nourished the Gazan intellectuals who attended it.

Check TED intl. website here:

If you missed the livestream of today’s show, you can watch it online here:

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