Reboot To The Power Of Seven: The Amazing Women Of TEDxDubai 2010

At first glance, the seven women appear to have little in common.

Indeed, they are a wonderfully diverse and eclectic group. Two are UAE nationals, one of whom is an Arctic adventurer (pictured at left), the other a determined and entrepreneurial music teacher with a young family.

Aside from the UAE duet(te), it's an ethnic/cultural mosaic.

There's a Turkish life coach/entrepreneur (with whom I personally have sharpened my own lcoaching skills), an Irish-born ethnic Indian advertising exec turned part-time philanthropist, a Canadian-born, San-Fransisco-based journalist named one of 10 "media game changers of 2009" by the Huffington Post, a British expatriate, linguist and mother of five who has lived in the Arabian Gulf region for several decades, and a one-time German model now fighting poverty in Brazilian favelas with affordable housing projects.

Yes, it's pretty much a global village.

They are different shapes, sizes, races, religions and nationalities. They range in age from late 20s to early 60s. Two wear abbayas. Two wear mini dresses. They all wear an invisible mantle of quiet confidence.

As it turns out, they have a lot more in common than self assurance. All seven are courageous, creative, and community minded. Each has a burning desire to make a difference, and the determination do so.

They are passionate. They are powerful. And they all spoke with panache at TEDxDubai 2010, the theme of which, in case you hadn't guessed, was "ReBoot." Listening to their stories live was a real privilege.

Here's an abbreviated compilation of their accomplishments, while we wait for the video versions of their TEDxDubai talks to be shared online... woo hoo!

Elham Al Qasimi (Arctic Adventurer)

In April 2010, Elham Qasimi successfully completed a two-week long unassisted and unsupported expedition to the Geographic North Pole, during which she skied cross-country from 89 degrees latitude to the northern-most point on the planet, thus become the the first Arab woman to set foot on the North Pole. Find out more about Al Qasimi on AWR (Funny, She Doesn’t LOOK Like An Arctic Explorer), or visit her website here.

She told Rhiz Khan about her experience in this interview:


Patricia Ryan (Matriarch/Linguist)

Mother of five Patricia Ryan has spent most of the past 40 years teaching  English in the countries of the Arabian Gulf. She loves the spoken and written word and advocates for the preservation of languages as a means to help conserve the world's rich cultural diversity. Ryan, who is also a grandmother, teaches at Zayed University in Dubai while she pursues a Masters Degree in Law.

She had the audience eating out of her hand from the moment she stepped on stage and quipped "I know what you're thinking...," then followed with some self-deprecating humour that had us all laughing out loud.

Tala Badri (Music Lover, Teacher, Mother)

Music teacher Tala Badri is the founder and executive director of Centre for Musical Arts,
 a non-profit organization dedicated to providing high-quality and affordable
music instruction for people of all ages and walks of life in the UAE. She has personally experienced the transformational power of music through her own life as well as that of her young daughter who has Asperger's syndrome.

Badri began her talk with a video clip of her daughter playing the violin, then later shared a heartwarming to camera talk of the youngster explaining what it means to have Asperger's. It was both touching and personal.

Sheena Matheiken (Fashion Innovator)

In May 2009, with fashion as her medium, and education her cause, Sheena Matheiken launched the Uniform Project, pledging to wear one little black dress for 365 days as an exercise in sustainability, and a fundraiser to support the Akanksha Foundation – a non-profit organization providing education to children living in Indian slums. For the next year, Sheena reinvented her one little black dress uniform on a daily basis solely using accessories that were either vintage, handmade, reused or donated.

Here's the result:

Monja Wolf (Poverty Activist)

Confronted with the fact that a dress she wore on a fashion shoot in India could have sustained an entire Indian family for several years, fashion model Monja Wolf decided to do something. She founded Monyati Initiatives (monyati is an arabic word meaning "a little wish that is close to your heart"), a non-profit organization that "specialize in strategy and project development for non-government organizations.

Of her most recent venture to build homes in the slums of Sao Paulo she says:
"It was an incredible and very successful initiative. We took a trip down to Brazil, visited the beneficiary families in their old homes and constructed their new houses together with the families and 600 volunteers. Enjoy reading the presentation...and in the meantime please note that we still collect funds for our latest initiative -- a hand dug well in Ethiopia."

Sue Gardner (Media Maven)

Former journalist turned online media powerhouse, Sue Gardner is the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization behind Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. Before joining the Wikimedia Foundation, she ran CBC.CA, the website for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, one of Canada’s most prominent and best-loved cultural institutions (and one of my personal favorites).

I was especially interested in Gardner's talk as I am a HUGE fan and regular supporter of Wikipedia, without which Amazing Women Rock would not be the site it is today. In this informal interview, Gardner explains how Wikipedia depends on the generosity of "strangers" to stay afloat:

Gonan Premfors (Parent/Coach)

Certified Co-active live coach and master trainer Gonan Premfors worked in collaboration with parents and children as well as with experts such as Henry Kimsey House (Co-Founder of the Coaches Training Institute and Co-Author of the Co-Active Coaching Book), to develop Parentology, a training program that helps parents navigate the tricky world of relationships and families. The skills taught in Parentology translate across any culture, religion or nationality.

Having experienced Premfors outstanding facilitation skills when I recently undertook the Coaches Training Institute Co-Active Coaching course in Dubai, I know firsthand of her wisdom and insight with respect to human behavior and relationships. In this short trailer, she talks briefly about Parentology:

Seven amazing women with so little, and yet so much, in common. Seven unique life experiences from which to learn how to "reboot."

Best of all? Seven amazing talks to look forward to being posted on AWR. Stay tuned!

Related links:
AWR TED Talks By Amazing Women
A Dream Come True: 18 Amazing Girls & Young Women Make TED History
Funny, She Doesn’t LOOK Like An Arctic Explorer
Centre for Musical Arts
Monyati Initiatives
Uniform Project