A meeting ground for harbingers of change

A meeting ground for harbingers of change

A meeting ground for harbingers of change

Grasping problems that are both abstract and practical is no doubt tough, but finding solutions to them is herculean.

 There are individuals though who take up both challenges to make the lives of people around them happy. 

Bangalore TEDx, a platform of ideas and ideation, which will unveil today, will showcase thinkers who have taken initiatives to transform the lives of people caught in the traps of poverty, religious fundamentalism and erroneous philosophical grasp. Deccan Herald spoke to a few intellectuals driving change in the Middle-East and North African region (MENA) to get a glimpse of a multi-cultural space similar to India.

Creative thinking

Adnane Addioui based out Rabat in Morocco is a social commentator, aspiring social entrepreneur and disruptive-thinker. Addioui is sure he wants to work in the MENA region, particularly in Morocco to enable creative thinking, entrepreneurship and innovation for the common good. The co-founder of the Moroccan Center for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship, Addioui is currently its Chief Visionary. He told Deccan Herald, “My focus is on creation of jobs and wealth. More wealth we can create, more jobs we can have.” Addioui wants to make people entrepreneurs and creators of wealth via incubation and start-ups.

“The words entrepreneur, incubation and start-ups are new in this traditional cosmos. We want to mainstream these concepts.” On the practical level, we will create projects in domains like health and transport to initiate and accelerate the much-needed economic change. At the abstract level, Addioui is clear that three major issues need to be addressed in the light of uprisings sweeping the MENA region. 

“We want justice, freedom and dignity and a decent livelihood. India is our model - it has changed its economic system to address poverty and still retained the social vision for its people.” Ibrahim Nehme from Beirut, Lebanon, the editor-in-chief of The Outpost magazine, is looking to involve the media in the Arab social transformation. Two years ago, he quit the advertising world and founded The Outpost. Published from Beirut and dubbed ‘a magazine of possibilities,’ The Outpost is a quarterly print publication that looks to ignite a socio-cultural renaissance in the Arab world.  Soon after its launch in September 2012, the publication was considered one of the most successful independent magazine launches in the Arab world and nominated for Best New Magazine and Best Magazine Design at the Magpile Magazine Awards, and later named by the Guardian as a successor to the Economist. 

Nehme’s driving philosophy is to build and perpetuate independent media. But how independent can his magazine remain in a region enveloped by sectarian conflict? “We are truly independent. We do not have political or commercial affiliations. We don’t take advertisement revenues. Our most pressing problem is to sustain the magazine financially. On the political front, we don’t support any party or bloc. But if I say I am politically neutral, I will be frowned upon. At best, we can say we have an overall political view -  freedom in the Arab world. Our magazine will be part of the revolution and renaissance that began in September 2012.”

Thinking designer

You would normally not associate an interior designer with an interest in philosophy and religion. But Tamadher Al Fahal is made of different stuff - she uses interior design as medium to re-interpret religion and philosophy. 

A postgraduate, Tamadher has been looking at creating a new image for Islamic art and design based on philosophical references and principles of faith. 

In 2012, Tamadher founded - along with her partner Nada Alaradi - Project Ulafa’a, a team of young artists that is based on reconciliation through the arts. Currently working as a Teaching and Graduate Assistant in Interior Design Programme in University of Bahrain, Fahal believes in the power of design. “Design can change the way people live. We have to understand that art is not just a copy and paste job. I found understanding art as design would help see new things. Same way understanding civilisation and religious principles as design would contribute to new thinking.”

Fahal has created images of Islamic art and design based on philosophy and religion. “These images are such that anyone in the world will be able to relate to it. We have to look at the lofty side.” But would not creating a new art based on religion be resisted by conservative powers? “There are extremists everywhere in the world. This is where you bring in a new art that will make you look at religion in a different way, one which is liberal. In case this doesn’t work, we have to go on with what we believe. We have to agree to disagree.”