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TEDxCairo: Unveiling the power of Egyptian innovation

Eye-opening event TEDx Cairo highlights that the revolution extends beyond Tahrir to different aspects of Egyptian life, most importantly innovation

Mohamed El Hebeishy, Sunday 22 May 2011
Bassem Youssef at TEDx Cairo – Photo by Mohamed El Hebeishy
Bassem Youssef at TEDx Cairo – Photo by Mohamed El Hebeishy
Views: 5575
Views: 5575

Twenty-one guest speakers filled the schedule of the latest TEDx Cairo event held on 21 May at the American University in Cairo. The theme of the event was “resurrection” and the talks revolved around the role of innovation in building post 25 January Egypt.

TEDx Cairo organises a series of events that attempt to spread knowledge by showcasing innovative ideas. TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design held its first event in 1984. It evolved into a global conference that eventually gave birth to local events known as TEDx. Though it supports TED’s mission – “ideas worth mentioning” – TEDx Cairo is an independently organized event.

The latest TEDx Cairo event played along the Technology, Entertainment and Design lines featuring a number of prominent Egyptian thinkers and artists. Film director Ahmed Abdalla talked about his latest award-winning film Microfone. Writer Essam Youssef shared his experience penning the controversial novel ¼ Gram, a true story about the world of underground drug addiction.

The event also featured computer scientist Haytham Abdel Fadeel who spoke about his latest innovation, Kengine. A semantic search engine that enters the realm of artificial intelligence, Kengine is designed to provide meaningful answers, not just search results. “This is the first time a machine can understand knowledge. Imagine what kinds of applications we can build based on this technology," said Haytham.

Women’s rights activist Marwa Sharafeldin gave an inspirational talk about gender equality. A storyteller herself, Marwa conveyed her message through a traditional Egyptian allegory, the story of Om Mohamed and Maria, daughters of Bahiya.

The star of the show was undoubtedly Bassem Youssef. A cardiac surgeon turned celebrity, Bassem Youssef broke into the entertainment business with his satirical Bassem Show. A political rhetoric You Tube-based show, Bassem Show premiered in March and in less than three months has accumulated over four million viewers. Bassem spoke about the power of alternative media and how its strong, rapid penetration can influence an entire nation.

He spoke of the former’s regime spoon-feeding approach when it came to media, and how that practice has been completely crushed thanks to the January 25 Revolution. To make his point, Bassem concluded his talk by dropping a teaspoon.

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