x = independently organized TED event

Theme: The Art of the Unexpected

This event occurred on
October 10, 2012

TEDx Kabul, being held in October 2012, is set to offer Afghanistan and the world: ‘The Art of the Unexpected’. TEDx events often choose a thematic title to guide and inspire the audience, the speakers and the organisers. The Kabul team realised that the theme for Afghanistan had to accomplish many things; it had to inspire hope, it had to share the vision of revealing the unexpected, sharing the unknown, it had to inspire an image of Afghanistan, and it had to imply multiple levels to that image, but mostly it had to fit with our vision for what we wanted TEDx Kabul to represent, and what we believe it can achieve. In ‘The Art of the Unexpected’ we have a theme and an idea, redolent of Afghanistan, evocative of surprise, and charged with energy.

We start with a location. Afghanistan: a country continually in the news, usually for negative reasons; with a history, culture and mixture of peoples and traditions as diverse as anywhere on earth. Kabul: a city of empires, of conquest, of the arts, of Shah’s and Amirs, of poets and writers, of destruction, of architecture, of civil war, of terrible crimes and great hurts, yet a city of hope, of growth, of tomorrow. We meet a group of people, a group of expats and Afghan’s, of artist’s, students, business women, and development workers, and we find they are all inspired by their surroundings, inspired and hopeful for the people they work with, the people they are related to, and the people for whom they believe Afghanistan can offer a future they deserve. We find that this group of people is committed to bringing TEDx and the positivity of spreading ideas of value to Kabul. It is well known Afghanistan has long been suffering: literacy rates are low, poverty is widespread, war and insurgency are a part of daily life for many people, access to justice can be difficult, infrastructure lacking and business often seen as corrupt or a tool to further violence and division. Yet beneath the heavy weight of oppression and violence, war and invasion, there still beats the true heart of Afghanistan: innovative, kind, entrepreneurial, creative, caring and intelligent. As TEDx organisers, we want to use the incredible platform and global reach of TEDx to show what many people will never expect to find, to show that behind the hurt and negativity real lives are being lived, a difference is being made, and a country exists that goes far beyond IED’s and religious extremism: Afghanistan is changing, it is full of surprises, the truth is unexpected.

We will bring to Kabul and the wider world, a mixture of speakers and performers from all over Afghanistan, bringing people together from all different walks of life and providing an environment where their ideas and thoughts can be exchanged and debated. We will have a cast of speakers including humanitarians, entrepreneurs, academics and journalists - Afghans who are engaged in their communities, and in their work, who make a difference to peoples lives, change perspectives, offer new opportunities, find creativity wherever they look and are committed to the future of Afghanistan. There will be performances and exhibitions from photographers, filmmakers, artists, musicians and athletes. The audience will be selected from amongst professionals, students, business leaders, development workers, the arts, and will bring together a dynamic mix of ideas and experiences, who can stimulate debate and discussion and engage with the TEDx environment.

Our theme is broad, but our purpose is clear. Join us, and let us show you a city, a country and a people beyond the narrow confines of war. Prepare for TEDxKabul: The Art of the Unexpected.

See more ­T­E­Dx­Kabul events

Organizing team


  • Eileen Guo
  • Patrick Lamont
    Publicity & People
  • Michael Abate
    Web Developer
  • Aleksandra Pawlik
    Logistics & People
  • Amanullah Mojadidi
    People & Sponsorships
  • Eijaz Badee Hosham
    People & Publicity
  • Shahla Naimi
    People & Sponsorships
  • Abed Shirzai
    Translations & Publicity
  • Alex Cantrell
    Graphic Designer
  • Una Moore