This week, the TED Blog released the exclusive video of TEDxBaghdad organizer Yahay Alabdeli’s speech at TEDxSummit, “Why I organized a TEDx in Baghdad.”
Yahay, an Iraqi refugee, returned to his country for the first time in 34 years to organize a TEDx event in Baghdad.
At TEDxSummit in Doha, Qatar, Yahay told his story.
Inspired by an Arabic poem he heard at a TEDx event in Rotterdam, Alabdeli said, “after 34 years of looking for identity, looking for home, this poem gave me all the answers I had been looking for.”
In his heart, Iraq had always been home, yet the country he saw in the media portrayed a home he could no longer recognize. “Baghdad: a city of killing and bombing? No! This is not my Baghdad,” an emotional Alabdeli protested, “My Baghdad was once a center of Arab learning, a city of peace (Madinat-as-Salam).” That realization spurred Alabdeli to organize the first TEDx event in Baghdad, which he themed, “Making the impossible possible.”
Organizing a TEDx in a European city is more like a conference, Alabdeli explained, but in places like Ramallah, Tripoli, Baghdad—it is more like a dream. “People leave inspired, they laugh and they cry, lives are transformed.”
In the end, more than 650 people attended TEDxBaghdad, including the Prime Minister of Iraq, and Alabdeli found what he had been searching for—a community full of hopes and dreams, and a real will to rebuild Iraq.
“We have shown the world that we are still alive,” he finished, as the audience rose to their feet in a standing ovation for the inspiration, determy’s snation, and passion of one extraordinary individual, living proof of TED’s premise that ideas can indeed change the world.“
TEDxBaghdad's second event just took place on the 22nd of October, soon after their City 2.0 event. Pictures from the event can be found here, and previously on the TEDx blog, a diary from a TEDxBaghdad team member.