TEDx Baghdad: The First Step for a Better Iraq

By Ibrahim Al-Zararee

Ibrahim participated in IYLEP for high school students in Louisville, Kentucky. He currently attends high school in Baghdad, Iraq.

On the 11th of November 2011, the first ever TEDx event was held in Baghdad, Iraq. It was about “making the impossible possible” and it was a great conference. 

They started it by playing the national Iraqi anthem on the guitar by three talented Iraqi youth followed by a great speech from the conference director Yahya Alabdeli to encourage youth to keep working on their ideas and never give up.  Then the Iraqi Prime Minister Noori Al-Maliki gave a speech to encourage youth to get involved in the community and develop their ideas.  He said that the government will start to work with youth to develop their ideas and that the youth are the leaders of the future.

The speakers were the most brilliant Iraqi people in their fields, such as singer Kadhim Alsahar, whom UNICEF named Iraq’s Ambassador for Equity 2011.  He talked through video about poor children and how we should help them.  Nasser Shama, an oud virtuoso and a composer, was also present and talked about his organization “Oud House” and how it helped hundreds of people to learn oud around the world. 

There were also a lot more famous Iraqi people like Suroor Yousif, the head of the southern division of the National Assembly of the Blind in Iraq who talked about blind people and their needs.  Maysa Ibrahim, the founder of The Young Mesopotamians talked about art and how she provided gifted individuals in Iraq with unmatched educational opportunities and also Azzam Alwash, an environmental activist and the founder of Edin Again and Nature Iraq organizations to restore the ancient marshlands of Iraq that were drained out. Rawa Alnaimi, an art educator and the president of Enki Organization, which provides education and support to vulnerable groups like orphans and those with special needs.

An American who participated in the event, Jeremy Courtney, is a philanthropist who helped with funding more than 180 heart surgeries for Iraqi children and helped along with his organization to provide training for local pediatric cardiac doctors, nurses, and medical technicians across Iraq.  Other speakers included architects Manhal Alhabbobi who won the WAN Award 2011 and Ihsan Fethi, an urban planner and heritage consultant, and also mental school headmaster Inaam Jawad, and director, producer and writer Mohamed Aldaraji.

There were 16 youth speakers who competed to win the TED prize which is $100, 000 to develop a winning idea.  They ended the conference and all the attendance stood up to greet the TEDxBaghdad team who made this event possible in such a short time. 

We left the event and we learned that if we want to do something we have to work hard to do it because things don’t come to us while we are sleeping but they come by hard work.

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