SAN FRANCISCO: A prestigious TED group dedicated to “ideas worth spreading” on Monday set out to provide a global stage for Arabic speaking thinkers, artists and change-makers. TED organizers at the US-based nonprofit Sapling Foundation announced that they teamed with the Qatar Foundation on a two-year initiative that will culminate with a flagship conference in Doha in 2022. This is the first time the TED Conference, known for an influential and accomplished community that includes founders of Amazon, Google, and Netflix, will focus on sharing “solutions, inventions, and stories” in Arabic.

“We at TED have always valued the power of delivering talks in one’s native language, and the nuance and richness that comes with doing so,” said Chris Anderson, the head of TED. “The TEDinArabic initiative is an important step in that journey.” The intent is to share impassioned TED Talks in Arabic that can change perceptions and benefit societies, according to organizers.

“Language is more than just a means of communication; it influences the way we think and how we frame our perceptions on a subconscious level,” Qatar Foundation chief executive Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al-Thani said in a release. “With TEDinArabic, I hope we can continue the process of amplifying ideas from our region to a global audience in a language that is synonymous with innovation and new thinking.”

TED India, launched in 2017, features both original content and talks in Hindi. It has been a hit in part due to television distribution and the star power of the platform’s host – actor Shah Rukh Khan. TED en Espanol launched two years ago featuring content in Spanish, and TED in Chinese is a newly launched podcast highlighting ideas from throughout China. Meanwhile, volunteers have translated TED “talks” into 115 languages, according to organizers.

The conference born in Northern California in 1984 during what was supposed to be a one-off event has grown into a global forum for heady ideas. TED is known for trademark “talks” during which the brilliant, innovative, artistic or accomplished deliver thought-sparking presentations in 18 minutes or less. In 2006, TED began to record talks and post them online. As TED talks were posted in more languages, traffic to the website soared. Talks have spread to television and radio. Captivating TED speakers have become Internet stars.

Richard Saul Wurman, who started the gatherings that Anderson’s non-profit Sapling Foundation transformed into the TED of today, has described the gathering as a dinner party that has turned into “a banquet for the whole world”. – AFP