If not us, who? — The TEDx Youth event slogan chosen by four young Emiratis says it all.
"Our society is full of talent, and our aim is not to only recognise that talent, but to showcase it as an example to the rest of our youth," Hamda Al Bgaishi, a 20-year-old Zayed University communications student, said.
Her peers Hamda Al Nuaimi, Hamda Al Falasi and Maitha Hamdan — all 20-year-old students of the same major in university — are a team of Emirati girls who will be bringing TEDx Youth to Dubai for the first time on January 28.
TEDx Youth comes under an international initiative, TEDx, in which members who stand out in their communities, are chosen to speak about interesting or innovative ideas to motivate audiences.
"We met at TEDx Ajman, where we were volunteering, and although we were impressed by the speakers, we couldn't help but notice the absence of Emiratis of our age group," Hamda Al Falasi said.
That simple observation turned into a discussion that ended up with the girls deciding to apply for a TEDx Youth license from the official website.
"They asked for a few details about our plans, the date, place, speakers and expected audience. After a few weeks of email exchanges, we got the licence," Hamda Al Bgaishi said.
After that, there was hard work for 10 constant months to tick the items off a long list. First, the girls had to get sponsors to support them with website development, branding, items like posters, invitations, giveaways, chairs, tables and other event requirements.
The event, which will be held under the patronage of Shaikh Mansour Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, was met by immediate support from the community. 1971Team, Young Eager Steps, ThinkupGCC, Xpoze, The Rabbit Hole, The Open Majlis, and The book Shelter, which are all Emirati initiatives, have offered to actively support the girls, give advice, assist in the organisation of the event and provide volunteers.
Additionally, Zayed University, Naqsh, F.I.O.R.E and Khalifa Fund have offered professional and technical support.
The next item on the list, which was equally important, was picking the speakers.
"We chose our speakers based on three criteria: age group, field, and ability to communicate ideas in an inspirational and clear manner," Hamda Al Bgaishi said.
"We started with a list of more than 50 speakers and narrowed it down to 16, from fields including technology, sports, fashion, community service, environment and entrepreneurship."
Hamda Al Falasi said: "More than 300 people signed up to attend while more than 100 signed up to volunteer. We couldn't have asked for a better reaction from the community."
When asked about the challenges that they have faced, all the girls agreed that the biggest challenge was striking a balance between managing their studies while simultaneously organising an event this big.
"With the support of our families and friends, we have made this come to life and in the end, it's all worth it," Hamda Al Falasi said.
"It certainly is worth it, and it's our time, and the role of each and every one of us to change any stereotypes," Hamda Al Bgaishi added.
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