x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Ideas worth spreading

In a bleak place like the West Bank where freedom is constrained, the desire to see beyond the present reality becomes all the more precious. On Saturday, TEDxRamallah was an opportunity to do just that.

In a bleak place like the West Bank where freedom is constrained, the desire to see beyond the present reality becomes all the more precious. On Saturday, speakers from around the world gave audience members the opportunity to do just that, through TEDxRamallah - an offshoot of TED, a conference that brings speakers from around the world to discuss technology, entertainment and design.

"You are a very difficult people to get to," Alice Walker, the author of The Colour Purple, told her Palestinian audience. It was an obvious statement, but that it was uttered at all is testament to the inspiration that TED seeks to foster.

The innovation of young Palestinian minds was apparent; Khaled al Sabawi, the son of a Palestinian refugee, talked about founding a green energy business as the region's first certified geothermal engineer. Mohammad Khatib, originally from a refugee camp, discussed how he went from being an intern at Google to launching a tech startup of his own in Ramallah.

The speakers proved that great ideas exist anywhere, but the event showed that good ideas can spread beyond borders, through fences and above walls.

Judging by the audience, including those tuning in via the web in Beirut, Bethlehem and Amman, there is ample appetite for such an opportunity in a region that needs as much hope and innovation as it can attract.