DOHA, QATAR and TEDx Converge


TEDxer Michael Esposito visits Doha for the 2012 global summit.

Doha Watar at night

Flying into Doha, Qatar at dusk is like flying into Las Vegas, only that all of your senses are heightened – a sobering aftereffect of the incredibly long time it takes visitors to get there. From the vantage point of a speeding plane, the city seems to jump up from the horizon like a cresting wave of concrete, neon lights and steel in a sea of scorched sand.

In Doha, the future descends upon the present and bleeding-edge technology fights off entropy and oblivion — the perfect backdrop for a TED conference. Bringing together eight hundred TEDx organizers from around the world, this year’s inaugural TEDX Global Summit in Doha, Qatar was an event to be seen and experienced. TEDx, for the uninitiated, is a kin to finishing school for passionate ideas people, multiculturalists, technologists and entrepreneurs. TEDx organizers apply for licenses from TED and each organizer creates a space for ideas to converge and for good ideas to instantaneously erupt  across and beyond the digital divide. The global summit celebrates creative ideas and makes celebrities of statisticians, scientists and dreamers.

The Qataris are incredibly inviting and hospitable. Inside the sand-surrounded Doha, the city races upwards instead of outwards. The speed of development is blistering and it is hard to imagine that so many cranes could be in one place at one time. Skyscrapers force the boundless terrain and wind-swept sand to yield to steel. Luxurious buildings with penthouse apartments, rooftop pools, and robust architectural flourishes are perfectly designed to allow guests the opportunity to forget where they are. The city feels designed by outsiders. All the buildings are brand new, while the “older” ones have a fresh coat of textured paint for effect. Every delicacy from around the world is available with a call. But if you take the trouble to look just one story above the window of the air-controlled coffee shop that smells of freshly made French croissants, you can see the exact line where the window washers must have put down their scrubbers and let the sand take over.

For seven days the TEDxers converged, dreamed up plans for our cities’ conferences and explored this mysterious steel oasis – an appropriate backdrop for a place where you believe anything is possible.

Story by Michael Esposito.

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