I got involved with the TEDxAlAin 2011 conference when I received a phonecall in January 2011 from a guy called Sajjad Kamal. (TEDx are independently-organised TED events. Go to www.TED.com to find out more.)
Sajjad was born and raised in Al Ain, then went to college in Waterloo, Canada. While he was there he helped organise 2 TEDx conferences, and 2 other conferences. He flew back to Al Ain at the end of 2010 with the express intent to run the first TEDxAlAin conference.
He found my Al Ain Enthusiast website while googling Al Ain, rang me up, we got together, and he asked me to be his co-host.
Together we made presentations to various local government bodies and funding organisations, and created this event. We had some terrific helpers, we brought in some great speakers, and our sponsors and partners included Mubadala Aerospace, Al Ain Municipality, Etihad Airways and Oasis Living Magazine.
Various people didn’t think we’d be able to get sponsors. They thought that, if we did get sponsors we’d never get 200 or more people to attend. And, if we did get 200 or more people to attend, 90% of them would be ex-pats, and very few would be local Emiratis.
In the end, a total of 850 people came on Saturday, May 7, 2011, and we had to turn away more than 300 last-minute applicants. As many as 100 people were watching the LiveStream broadcast of the talks during the day. And 34% of the attendees were Emirati.
There were 10 speakers on the day, each presenting for no more than 18 minutes as per the TED guideline.
Go to this page to see a video of my 15-minute talk. Other talks are starting to appear on YouTube. I’ll link to these when they’ve all been uploaded.