x = independently organized TED event

This event occurred on
May 26, 2012
2:00pm - 2:00pm +04
(UTC +4hrs)
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates

TEDxAbuDhabi Conference, will be the first of a series of annually held conferences in AbuDhabi, UAE. The content will include talks about science, business, the arts and the global issues facing our world. Over one day, 15 speakers each take an 18-minute slot, and there are many shorter presentations, including music, performance and comedy.

The theme for TEDxAbuDhabi 2012 is The Spaces in Between. The spaces in between sometimes bind things together and they sometimes keep things apart. They might prop things up or they might weigh things down. They can lead you from one place to another or they can get in way of where you want to be. They might bridge a gap between one point in time and the next, or from a vision to an achievement, or from the known to the unknown. They add intimacy and intrigue. They can make things worse.They can make things better.

Abu Dhabi is a city of landmarks and icons. Inspired by this, TEDxAbuDhabi aims to examine the relationships between them, the ways they came to be, and the people who made them possible. We want to add color to the things and people who you know, and shed light on the stories that tend to go untold. We hope to bring these different perspectives together for a day of creative, interesting, inspiring idea sharing.

ADNEC, Conference Room B
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates
See more ­T­E­Dx­Abu­Dhabi events


Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Tarek S. Niazi

Tarek S. Niazi is the author of the book ‘More Than 60 Minutes: When Earth Stands Still.’ Niazi's interests run the gamut from geology to history, astronomy to theology, and most of the sciences, including physics. His global travels have given him a deep appreciation for the mosaic of life and culture on Earth. A successful executive, and a scientist and researcher by nature, Tarek has published a book of great insight that has created much controversy. He asks, Could Global Warming be attributed to the weakening of the Magnetic Field Force? And Are there any historical and geological records to tell us about sudden Climate Change? Tarek answers these intriguing questions and invites the curious minds to explore the Earth’s changes; the cause, the reason and the consequence.  

Gus Halwani

What do a Funky Jazz guitarist, neuroscientist and teacher have in common? No idea? Gus Halwani is what. Currently finishing his Doctoral Dissertation at Harvard-MIT, Health Sciences and Technology, Gus is a self confessed learning junkie.  He has the uncanny ability to make people from all walks of life feel knowledgeable and respected by being open to new ways of thinking. I am sure that there are not too many people in the world who have Quantitative Celluar Neuroscience next to jazz guitar as hobbies on their CV. Among other things, (like researching the links between Music, Neuro-imagery and stroke recovery) Gus is making a gutsy effort to create a better link between those who develop education policies to those who know how the brain works, The ultimate goal being, that the policy writers are better informed as to what goes on in the classroom and so can write policies that are more effective to education as a whole – that’s affects us all right?

Ahmad Al-Astad

Mr. Ahmad Mohammad Al-Astad is currently the Director of Economic and Social Studies Department at the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research in Abu Dhabi (ECSSR). Ahmad has presented many papers in local and international conferences and his latest research papers include ‘The UAE National Security: Concepts and Principles’ and ‘The UAE Economy: A Success Story’. Ahmad looks at questions with real impact on modern life and the future of UAE. At ECSSR, he is a catalyst and an advocate for spreading knowledge and his work frequently invokes scientific findings, literature, design and economics. 

Shaima Al Sayed

Shaima Al Sayed’s interests are diverse, she loves football, sportscars, writing poems and short stories. She organises weddings, parties and corporate events, and also teaches foreigners how to speak Arabic with an Emirati accent. She volunteers A LOT, including working with Think Up who create opportunities for GCC talent, organises the Unity Drive Womens Car Parade and is actively involved in with the volunteer group Seeds of Change. Her latest hobby, surprisingly, has been stand-up comedy. Her mission is simple, erase stereotypes about Muslims and Arabs, and bridge the gap in communication between Arabs and the rest of the world. In her comedy act Shaima likes to take Arab stereotypes and exaggerate them (especially Emirati women). Her talent for this and her amazingly contagious laugh, helps her achieve her goal which is to get people laughing together, as she believes that laughter can break down many cultural barriers.

Jourdan Younis

Jourdan Younis is a native Californian who has over 10 years of international experience in the field of Sustainable Development. His passion and interest in this field has led him to successfully launch and develop many sustainability projects worldwide. In particular, Jourdan focuses his efforts on research and development in clean-tech, and sustainability. His background encompasses London Business School, California Polytechnic University, and several international sustainability consulting operations, including Sowwah Square in Abu Dhabi and the Energy Foundation in San Francisco. Jourdan actively looks for solutions to some of the issues we live and breathe on a daily basis. For example, the fact that we spend 90% of our time indoors leads him to explain some mind-blowing data and statistics about the consequences of this lifestyle. 

Yiannis Lagos

Yiannis Lagos is the President International Markets for Humantelligence and is responsible for leading global expansion of the company. An Executive and Entrepreneur with broad experience in leadership positions, he brings passion and enthusiasm to his studies about people in the workplace.  Yiannis invests his time and energy to discover what makes people tick at work. Through clever studies, Yiannis has researched behavioral characteristics and workforce trends globally since 2006. He has developed a deep understanding based on scientific evidence about what drives and motivates the workers from all walks of life in the Middle East and worldwide. His upcoming work tells the fascinating story of what lies ahead in the modern workplace.

Nayla Al Khaja

Nayla Al Khaja, was not deterred by the fact there was no film industry to speak of in the UAE, nor any role models to guide her in her career choice. After graduation she went about making short films and hit the jackpot with her first film, Arabana, which won a lot of praise for its dark overtones and controversial subject matter. It touched on the sensitive topic of child abuse, and was used by UNICEF in one of its awareness campaigns. At 33, Nayla is known as the UAE’s first female film producer/director and Canon Middle East brand ambassador. In January 2012 she launched a new film club in Abu Dhabi known as ‘Aflam,’ which was founded by her company D-SEVEN Motion Pictures. The club will serve as a platform to significantly boost and support Arab filmmakers. Nayla’s long term goal is to produce commercial films for the UAE people by the UAE people and develop a film economy. By doing this she hopes to change the stereotypes that are often presented in imported films.

Yalman Khan and Kunal Wadhwani

As the global population reaches 7 billion many countries are concerned about world food security. Not only are there more mouths to feed, but we have less arable land to grow crops and water is becoming more scarce. With this in mind, how is farming going to look in the future? Or is the future of farming already here? Yalman Khan and Kunal Wadhwani believe the future IS here and are tackling the issues of world food security, land degradation and overuse of chemicals head on. Yalman and Kunal are the co-founders of Agricel, an innovative start-up and pioneer in the field of Film Farming. Film farming is a technology in which plants are cultivated on a hydro-membrane composed of water-soluble polymer and hydrogel. This hydro-membrane absorbs water and nutrients from the culture medium allowing the plant to access exactly what it needs with no excesses. Let us tell you that their solution saves up to 90% of water consumption and uses up to 80% less fertilizer than conventional farming!

Organizing team


Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Mubarak Al Amry
    Co-curator and Executive Organizer
  • Tunde Gal
    Media Relations Coordinator
  • Oksana Shumylo
    Event Production Lead
  • Kareem Ebaid
    Social Media Catalyst
  • Faris Abdulkhadir
    Community Catalyst
  • Lucinda Yule
    Community & Partnerships Coordinator
  • Jessica Dall'anese
    Event Logistics Coordinator
  • Mohamed Abdo