DUBAI // A genetics expert, a poet, a student and some lawyers are among those anxiously waiting to find out whether they will be voted as "People's Choice" speakers at the TEDxDubai conference.
More than a dozen people took part in the event's first Talent Search session last week at The Pavilion art centre near the Burj Khalifa and they were each given just a minute to put forward an idea.
The submissions had to reflect the conference's theme: the beauty of small things, and the subjects ranged from the hijab, entrepreneurship and breast cancer to prejudice and cash.
The 16 pitches were recorded on video, and the clips have been placed on Facebook, where members of the public can vote by clicking the "like" tab beneath their favourites.
This is the first time the public have been able to choose speakers - previously they were all selected by the organisers, who approach individuals and invite them to take part.
Canadian Neel Kumar, a former advertising copywriter who is setting up a film-production company, spoke about how small experiences in life can enable people to do something really big.
"If you're open to the small things - a chance remark, an experience at work - eventually these things sort of fuse together and end up defining what you can do later on," he said.
Mr Kumar has wanted to appear at TEDxDubai since 2009, when he attended the first conference and was inspired by one of the speakers.
"I was thinking, 'One day I want to do something that will enable me to get up there,'" he said. "The kind of people who go to TEDx are the ones who want to be inspired. You're not speaking to people who aren't listening, everyone's there because they're keen."
Noor Kadhim, a British-Iraqi, pitched an idea she developed with her British-South African friend, Khatija Sacranie. If successful, Ms Kadhim will speak about an art initiative.
"The concept is that we're creating a neutral platform for bringing people together to express their identity though art," she said. "Too often art can be affiliated to various political ideologies or is clouded by economic considerations. It's not accessible to the people who appreciate it the most."
She said she wanted to speak at TEDxDubai because it would give her a chance to talk about a cause that was close to her heart.
"Coming from a legal background, I've been given opportunities to speak about lots of things in the cases I've been involved in," she added. "But this is the first time I can talk about something that is a passion of mine that I think will bring people together."
TEDxDubai curator Giorgio Ungania said: "Talent Search has been really interesting because there are very diverse ideas from very different people. They don't rehearse, they have one minute to deliver their pitch and we don't do any kind of editing to give everybody the same opportunity.
"We received around 50 submissions but we had to do preselection because some of them were pitching product ideas, and this is not something you can do at TEDx.
"If they were in line with the spirit of TED - non-commercial, non-religious and non-political - we didn't say no to anybody. The one, two or three who get the most likes on Facebook will become TEDxDubai speakers under the people's choice umbrella."
There will be 14 speakers in total, with the remainder being chosen by the organisers.
TEDxDubai is an independently organised spin-off of the TED conference, which was started in the US in 1984 as a platform for what the organisers called "ideas worth spreading". It will take place on October 22 at Sheikh Saeed Halls at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
Go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/TEDx-Dubai/107140911756 to vote for the Talent Search hopefuls.
Voting closes on Sunday. Those wishing to attend the conference can apply for free to be one of 1,000 delegates at http://www.tedxdubai.com/registration1/