TEDxBaghdad is honored to present a cadre of distinguished speakers who will share their passions, creativity, and innovative spirit to viewers worldwide. With their inspirational stories, these coveted speakers aim to give Iraq’s people hope for a brighter and more prosperous future. This is where the beginning of it all begins.
Martin Kobler Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for IraqMartin Kobler is the United Nations Special Representative for Iraq and Head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), an initiative committed to assisting the government and people of Iraq in addressing critical challenges facing the nation. Personally vested in the Middle East, Martin has vast diplomatic experience in the region having worked tirelessly to maintain stability and foster post-conflict resolution with the Afghanistan government, the Palestinian Authority in Jericho, as well as serving as the German ambassador to both Egypt and Iraq.
Rayan Abdullah Graphic DesignerRayan Abdullah is a world-renowned authority in corporate design, corporate identity, and typography and is the author of several award-winning textbooks in the field. He is the founder of the design firm, Markenbau, where his use of strategic branding has influenced the way major corporations and institutions are perceived by the public. His most notable contributions include a revamp of the current Audi logo and a redesign of the German eagle, the federal emblem of Germany’s coat of arms.
Karim Wasfi Cellist and ConductorKarim Wasfi is the former Director and Chief Conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra. A talented cello player, Karim regards music as a bridge for peace and an essential element in the ongoing rehabilitation of Iraq. This belief led him to establish the Peace through Arts Initiative where youth from all walks of life come together to learn about both music and unity through art. His most recent innovative endeavor offers classical musical instruction to Iraqi orphans with the goal of shaping their future and providing them with the opportunity to become world-class musicians.
Matteo Mantovani EnvironmentalistSince 2010, Matteo Mantovani has played a central role in liaising with the Iraqi Ministry of Environment to fulfill the requirements of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. His determination in this role led him to relocate to Sulaimaniyah where he has spearheaded a myriad of environmental projects across the provinces. He is currently leading a team of specialists in the creation of Iraq’s first national greenhouse gas inventory with the goal of developing strategies and policies for emissions reductions.
Jaffer Maki InnovatorJaffer Maki is a resident doctor and researcher residing in Baghdad. Despite limited resources, Jaffer applied sheer determination to develop a myriad of technologies ranging from devices that facilitate the daily lives of the physically challenged to an apparatus that reduces environmental pollution. Jaffer ultimately seeks to see the fruits of his labors accessible to the general public so as to alleviate suffering and enhance the quality of life of those in need.
Karam Turki AnimatorKaram Turki is the founder and CEO of Gilgamesh Studios for Animation Solutions. Inspired by the 5000 year-old epic of Gilgamesh the Great, Karam left a prestigious position at the College of Engineering at Almustansiriya University to establish a production company that specializes in 3D animation. Karam has since produced the first full-length 3D animated feature film in the Middle East. Along with his team, Karam subsequently diversified his interests to additionally explore a number of cutting-edge disciplines including architectural visualization, industrial modeling, games, apps, and e-learning.
Mahdi Al-Mualim ArtistIn a moment of utter despair and desperation in 2007, Mahdi Al-Mualim was driven to burn three decades worth of his original paintings. As the flames devoured his work, he noticed the beautiful shapes drawn by the rising smoke. Intrigued by this imagery, Mahdi began to experiment with candle smoke as a drawing tool. The subsequent result of this new medium captured the absolute beauty and astonishing detail of human and animal forms in his works, which is now frequently showcased in art exhibitions across Iraq.
Mohammed Maan Al Zakaria Youth ActivistA native of Mosul, Mohammed Maan Zakaria was saddened that his city was not living up to its true potential due to decades of neglect and a dearth of precious greenery. Using basic social media strategies, Mohammed was able to mobilize hundreds of youth to rally around the single goal of restoring and beautifying this historical community. News of his efforts garnered the support of the municipality helping spawn Mosul’s National Campaign for Cleanliness and, most recently, the Tree Planting Campaign.
Ghaith Salih PhotographerGhaith Salih is a self-taught photographer who is recognized throughout the Arab world for his portrayals of the remarkable people and culture of Iraq. He is the recipient of multiple awards including the National Geographic Abu Dhabi Photomentaries Award in 2011. Ghaith has recently expanded his portfolio to include images of nature, capturing the splendor of the pristine Iraqi marshlands and the beauty of star trails in the night sky. His most astounding work was accomplished using the incredibly challenging art of macrophotography, discerning to the naked eye the astonishing and seemingly invisible details of insect and plant life.
Sheima Qamar PeacemakerA peacemaker and Human Rights activist in Sweden and Iraq, holding a Master’s degree in communication form Gothenburg University. Being a certified project manager, Sheima works at Lernia, one of the largest consulting companies in Sweden and the founder of the Bring Center for Volunteerism. Organizing workshops involved in addressing issues like migration, immigrant and women’s empowerment, team building, nonviolence, diversity, and leadership for youth. Just before arriving at TEDxBaghdad, Sheima participated in a Christian Peacemaker Teams delegation to Turkey and Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Harith Khlaif ArchitectHarith is an assistant teacher in the Architectural Department. He is doing his Master’s degree in Urban Design and participated in various modern projects as an office consultant for the university. From that he acquired his passion and applied his research topic in Baghdad to show its true historical identity and to show its modern urban structure.
Mandy Dhiab Singer-SongwriterMandy Dhiab was captivated by music when she was only six years old. Her melodic renditions of familiar standards add to her growing repertoire of originally composed acoustics and beautifully written lyrics. Mandy uses music to express her emotions and share her dreams for a better world.