TED talks' unlikely success in Yemen

Tik Root | Aljazeera

Sanaa, Yemen - The poorest country in the Arab world, Yemen - riven by security concerns, political uncertainty and a mounting humanitarian crisis - at first glance seems an unlikely host for TED talks: slickly produced conferences first held in the US where speakers present "ideas worth spreading".

But that's exactly what happened last week. Riding a wave of success from Yemen's inaugural TEDx conference in December, the second gathering was triple the size of the first.

"This year we decided to make it bigger," said Samed Ahmed, a pharmacist by day and TEDx co-organiser the rest of the time. "It will be shown all over the world that Yemeni people can do something big."

TEDx events are independently organised offshoots of the twice-a-year TED conference. The format - speakers have roughly 15 minutes to convey an idea that does not have an explicitly political or religious agenda - is the same around the world. But there is no doubt that this was a distinctly Yemeni affair.