Over the weekend, on the island of Kunfunadhoo in the pristine Baa Atoll, the first ever TEDx talk held in the Maldives successfully concluded, sparking conversation about greater meaning and purpose far beyond the superficial.
Hosted at Soneva Fushi on the evening of 19th March, TEDxBaaAtoll was a momentous celebration of culture, art, wellness and the environment. Embodying the “Slow Life” ethos of reconnecting with oneself and nature, the event provided a barefoot space for both local and international speakers to engage with and share new ideas, challenge the status quo, and seek a deeper understanding of our everchanging world.
The first speaker of the night, entomologist Akib Jahir offered insight into integrated mosquito management and fostering environmental balance on our beautiful planet. Instead of the toxic yet widespread habit of fogging, Akib is a strong proponent of mosquito traps – a more sustainable way of keeping those pesky bugs at bay.
Shaziya ‘Saazu’ Saeed, a professional diver and surfer, spoke on the profound effects of ocean sports and recreational activities on mental well-being. Being connected to the ocean and nature, Saazu believes, can help heal our societies in ways we may not expect, even down to serious social issues such as substance abuse.
Another spirited environmentalist, Hussain ‘Sendi’ Rasheed talked about the effects of climate change he has witnessed over the years, including devastating bleaching events and rise in sea temperatures. By utilizing nutrient-rich seaweed abundant here in the Maldives, Sendi asserts that we can adapt to the changing climate and live a generally healthier life. Mining the same vein, Aki Allahghol taught us how we can create a positive impact by creating large scale coral nurseries, and how the use of technology can build growth, resilience and increase survival rates for reefs.
Youth activist Yala Shameem, at only 13 years of age, provided us with a heartwarming outlook on the current education system. From her perspective as a student, Yala addressed the need to nurture young talent by implementing various learning processes other than standardized tests, in a way that directly relates to everyday life.
Aishath Adnan, a technology manager and co-founder of Women in Tech, shared her experience being a woman in STEM – a choice that was not well understood by her community at the time. She examined how we can empower girls to pursue careers in these male-dominated fields, while simultaneously dismantling gender norms embedded within our society. Another local speaker, cultural anthropologist Malsa Maaz spoke on capturing the human essence of cultural artifacts. Based on her dissertation fieldwork on coconut culture in Baa Kihaadhoo, Malsa weaved a story of how rich and robust culture can truly be, inviting us to observe its intangible elements that can be found all around us.
Two international speakers also discussed ways in which we can enrich our work lives and deepen our purpose in the corporate realm. Bruce Bromley, the Chief Financial Officer of an award-winning luxury hospitality brand, revealed how finance and sustainability go hand in hand – two pillars of corporate development that are inextricably linked with one another. Meanwhile, speaker Carissa Nimah spoke on the power of creative job titles in motivating employees, drawing from her multifarious experience in PR and marketing.
For more information about TEDxBaaAtoll and its speakers, visit TEDxBaaAtoll.