Doha will host their first ever TEDx event on 29th October. It’s during the same week as the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, so looks like TEDxDoha is a great addition to what promises to be a culture-tastic week in Doha. The theme for TEDxDoha is "Fun and Important" and the line up includes leading thinkers from the world of film, comedy, design and beyond (for Hollywood star spotters, the line up includes Salma Hayek).
The event will be held at Doha’s new cultural village Katara, in the Katara Cinema with a Simulcast at the Katara Festival Lounge. The lounge looks like it will be a much more relaxed venue where attendees can mingle, enjoy some refreshments and watch the TEDx speakers.
Reem Acra, fashion designer
Reem Acra is an internationally renowned fashion designer. She began her career while attending the American University of Beirut. She was then discovered by a fashion editor who was captivated with the ornately embroidered silk organza gown Acra had made from her mother’s dining room tablecloth. The fashion editor instantly offered to host a fashion show for Acra. Following the serendipitous encounter, Acra studied at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and its Paris counterpart at Esmod.
In 1997, Reem Acra launched her fashion business with a bridal collection that quickly became internationally recognized. She is known for her elegant designs and the Reem Acra ready-to-wear collection which was introduced six years later.
The Reem Acra flagship store is in New York City and was opened in 2003. Her ready-to-wear and bridal collections are carried by 150 of the world’s most exclusive retailers. Her following includes Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, Beyonce Knowles, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Eva Longoria as well as royal families around the world.
Ahmed Ahmed, comedian
Ahmed is a world famous comedian who tours all across the globe with his stand-up comedy routine. Ahmed can be seen in such films and television shows as Iron Man, You Don’t Mess With The Zohan, Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour, Swingers, Tracey Takes On, Roseanne, JAG, Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn on Comedy Central, and MTV’s PUNK’D.
He has also appeared on CNN, The View, and NPR, and was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal in December of 2001. Ahmed can also be seen in the film City of Life, the first feature film to be shot entirely in Dubai, U.A.E., and he was the recipient of the first annual Richard Pryor Award for Ethnic Comedy at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival in Scotland. He’s a regular performer at the world famous Comedy Store in Hollywood and the Comedy Cellar in New York City.
Ahmed made his directorial debut with the critically acclaimed documentary Just Like Us that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2009.
Taika Waititi, visual artist, actor, writer and director
Taika is a visual artist, actor, writer and director hailing from the Raukokore region of New Zealand. His short film Two Cars, One Night was nominated for an Academy Award in 2005. His next short, the strangely comic Tama Tu, about a group of Maori soldiers in Italy during World War 2, won a string of international awards.
His first feature, Eagle vs. Shark (2007), a comedy about a dysfunctional couple, co-starred his old comedy partner Jemaine Clement, of Flight of the Conchords. It won Best Screenplay at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, Best Feature and Best Female Performance at the Newport International Film Festival, and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, causing Variety magazine to name Waititi one of 10 Directors To Watch.
Taika’s second and most recent feature, Boy, appeared at the Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals earlier this year. Boy, New Zealand’s highest grossing home-grown film ever, won an unprecedented number of prizes at the recent NZ Qantas Film & Television Awards, including Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay.
As a performer and comedian, Taika has been involved in some of New Zealand’s most innovative and successful productions. He has a strong background in comedy writing and performing and with Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), has won New Zealand’s top comedy award, the “Billy T” and the “Spirit of the Fringe Award” in Edinburgh. Since then he has written and directed episodes of the internationally adored, Emmy-nominated HBO series Flight of the Conchords, as well as TV commercials in the United States and United Kingdom.
Ahmed Al Baker, Instrumentation Technician
After Ahmed Al Baker, a 23-year-old Qatari, graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering, he went straight to work doing 12-hour shifts as an engineer at QP. But really, he always wanted to become a filmmaker. He found himself dreaming up stories on his daily commutes.
One year ago, he decided it was time to pursue his passion. And now, despite no formal training, he’s already finished shooting his first feature film, a science-fiction mystery with 3-D elements that he wrote, produced and directed called “The Package: Volume 1.” The film is notable for its daring use of color, lighting and texture.
Because creating a 3-D feature film from scratch with no training or previous experience wasn’t enough to fill all his hours, Ahmed’s also written a TV series – 90 episodes!
Ahmed Al Baker’s story is hugely inspiring: it combines an indomitable strength of will with an almost frightening level of creative energy.
Matt Aiken, Special Effects Supervisor
Matt has worked at Weta Digital, a world leader in digital effects, since the early days of the company. Matt was Digital Models Supervisor on the Lord of the Ringstrilogy, pre-production / R&D Supervisor for King Kong and CG Supervisor for Avatar.
Lately Matt has supervised visual FX on Peter Jackson’s King Kong 360 3-Dattraction at Universal Studios Hollywood, The Lovely Bones and District 9, the later earning him a nomination for Best Visual Effects Oscar. Currently Matt is working on upcoming Weta Digital projects including Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin.
Matt has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Victoria University of Wellington and a Master of Science in Computer Graphics from Middlesex University, London. He’s given presentations on Weta Digital’s work at many conferences and festivals including SIGGRAPH, fmx, the Australian Effects and Animation Festival, Imagina, the London Effects and Animation Festival and AnimfxNZ.
Rahab Elewaly, Animator
Rahab Elewaly is an Egyptian-American filmmaker who studied cinema in Cairo, Egypt, majoring in Animation and Fine Arts. She has worked as an animation artist for Warner Brothers, Fox Searchlight, the Independent Film Channel, MTV and PBS. Rahab has co-produced documentaries for BBC London and the Al Jazeera Documentary Channel, directed a variety of arts programs for Arab Radio & Television satellite channel, and worked as a graphic designer for a Microsoft international ad campaign.
She has directed and animated films screened at the Sundance, Cannes, Berlin, Toronto and D.C. Independent film festivals. She won Best Animated Film, Cairo International Film Festival, and was invited by the University of Texas, University of Florida, Northwestern University, and Virginia Commonwealth University to hold animation seminars. Rahab is currently teaching animation workshops for the Doha Film Institute Education Programs in Qatar.
Salma Hayek Pinault, Actress
Academy Award nominated actress Salma Hayek has proven herself as a prolific actress, producer, director, and activist. She received an Academy Award Nomination, a Golden Globe Nomination, a SAG Nomination, and a BAFTA Nomination for Best Actress for the title role in Julie Taymor’s “Frida”.
She produced the highly successful series “Ugly Betty” for American television and won an Emmy for her directorial debut, “The Maldinado Miracle”. Ms. Hayek Pinault continues to support, educate and fight for such causes as life-threatening maternal and neonatal tetanus; domestic violence education, awareness and prevention; as well as various humanitarian and environmental causes.