Local, international speakers take to stage at TEDxBaaAtoll

The Baa Atoll recently hosted the Maldives’ first-ever edition of TEDx on March 19, 2022. Joining the international community of TED-inspired events, TEDxBaaAtoll saw around 100 invited guests including international guests, island council representatives and local Maldivians attend the talks live at Soneva Fushi, a world-renowned resort on Kunfunadhoo, one of the largest islands in the atoll and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. In addition to the guests at the resort, participants from around the globe were able to join the live stream of the event.

The independently organised event, licensed by TED, featured local and international voices and TED talk videos under the theme of ‘Slow Life’. In a world where everything happens at full speed, Slow Life focuses on the ways we can find a deeper purpose beyond the superficial by reconnecting with the earth to living in harmony with the natural environment; as well as working hand-in-hand with communities to make the world a better place; and nurturing our physical and mental wellbeing to be the very best we can be.

As the sun began to set over the Indian Ocean, the event kicked off with a sustainability market and glass exhibition, which highlighted some of the sustainability initiatives currently in place on the island. A warm welcome and an opening announcement by the event moderator was then followed by an introductory video from TED curator Chris Anderson.

Under the light of the stars above them and with the sound of waves crashing in the background, each speaker took to the stage to share their own unique stories and ideas on what Slow Life means to them.

First up to the platform and sporting a full respirator mask and pesticide sprayer, entomologist Akib Jahir laid out his ambitious plan to tackle the world’s most dangerous animal – the mosquito – without the need for toxic chemical solutions. Determined to reduce the number of mosquitoes with nothing but the use of a revolutionary mosquito trap, Akib and his team have virtually eliminated the risk of mosquito-borne disease on the island.

Maldivian professional diver and surfer, as well as an advocate for marine conservation, Shaziya ‘Saazu’ Saeed followed to discuss how being more mindful and in tune with the ocean, or what she terms as “oceaned”, can hold the key to a healthier, happier life.

Bruce Bromley, a highly experienced Chief Financial Officer and trustee for a not-for-profit foundation focused on mitigating the impacts of climate change, delved into the world of finance to reveal why every CFO should also be a company’s Chief Sustainability Officer.

The youngest of the speakers, thirteen-year-old Maldivian school girl Yala Shameem talked about why it is so important for schools to adapt their teaching methods to prepare children to become future leaders. Sharing her own experiences as a student, Yala eloquently went on to explain how by removing the pressure of test papers and grading systems, students can build their self-confidence as equals amongst their peers.

Founder and managing director of a Swiss NGO working on coral restoration projects in the Maldives, Ahmad ‘Aki’ Allahgholi looked at how with just a little help from technology, we can restore and preserve our coral reefs.

Technology management specialist and local Maldivian, Aishath Adnan discussed ways to encourage more women to pursue a career in the tech industry.

Maldivian cultural anthropologist, Malsa Maaz who is currently studying how the human body holds and transmits cultural knowledge, highlighted ways to truly learn and appreciate culture.

Local entrepreneur and mentor, Hussain ‘Sendi’ Rasheed, a pioneer of the region’s diving industry and the Maldives’ first PADI-certified course director, shared why seaweed is much more than a weed and how it could be an essential ingredient in our fight against climate change.

And Carissa Nimah, a Guardian of the Brand (Chief Commercial Officer), who has worked with some of the world’s leading luxury brands, looked at why a job title might matter more than we think and what would happen if everyone had a job title that motivated and inspired them to become the most creative and purpose-driven version of themselves?

Adding a local touch, attendees were also treated to live performances of the boduberu, a traditional form of Maldivian drumming, by Dharavandhoo-based group Chanbeylee as well as traditional Maldivian songs by performers Huya & Shan.

The event was supported by Soneva, Manta Air, Dhiraagu, Blueworld Dharavandhoo, Violet Inn, The Council of Dharavandhoo and Analice Costa.

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