Meet Irteza Ubaid,a young 20-something Pakistani based in Lahore who has been named the TEDx Ambassador for Pakistan. A technology and energy consultant by profession, Irteza recently wrapped up his third TEDxLahore event this year on the 22nd of October, having organized 11 TEDx events (TEDxNUST, TEDxLUMS and TEDxLahore) in Pakistan since 2010. DESTINATIONS speaks with him about the TED platform, his favourite TED talk, and more.


How did you first become involved with TED? 

My first experience with TED dates back to 2009-2010 when I was still an engineering student. I was searching online for disruptive technologies and found a TED talk by Pranav Mistry on the thrilling power of sixth sense technology. I was so hooked to the talk that I binge-watched TED talks all night. Later, I found out about the TEDx programme (an international community that organizes TED-style events anywhere and everywhere) and decided to organize my first TEDx event in my university.

What do you love most about the TED platform? 

The slogan of TED is ‘ideas worth spreading’ and I love the fact that TED and TEDx events expose you to diverse and mind-boggling ideas that help you shape your understanding better. It changes your myopic vision about life and the world.

In your opinion, how can TEDx events prove beneficial for Pakistani society?

TEDx events have the capabilities to act as catalysts to inspire change. It’s a platform for amplifying voices that can shape a better future. Another important facet of TEDx events are the communities they nurture; passionate people who want to connect with like-minded people to inspire change.

What are some of the misconceptions about TEDx events in Pakistan? 

Oh, it’s a long list but I would like to highlight the top ones:

  1. Only celebrities or popular figures can speak at the event;
  2. TEDx talks are all about motivation, leadership and entrepreneurship;
  3. TEDx talks are all about personal stories;
  4. TEDx talks have to only be in English;
  5. Sponsors or partners can dictate the programme or speakers.

If you could invite any one speaker to your next TEDxLahore event, who would it be? 

There are so many… it’s hard to point out one, but I think it will be amazing if I could have Dr. Adeb Rizvi (the head of the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation who provides free medical treatment to numerous Pakistanis annually) to speak at TEDxLahore!

You’ve been officially named the TEDx Ambassador for Pakistan, what does your role entail?  

The role is two-folds; working with the local community and working with the TEDx team in New York. It basically involves taking up a leadership role in the regional TEDx community to help, mentor and connect TEDx groups in the appointed region and encourage organizers to contribute to the TEDx knowledge-sharing platforms. Also, my role requires me to submit to TED ongoing suggestions on how TED could support the appointed TED/TEDx community, and recommend ways for TED to grow TEDx in the region.

Do you have any upcoming TEDx projects under your sleeve?

Yes, in order to keep the community engaged, I along with my core team are planning to organize TEDxAdventures for the first time in Pakistan. It is a new format and I am excited to bring this to Pakistan.

What’s your all-time favourite TED talk (and why)? 

My all-time favourite TED talk is ‘Don’t kill your language’ by Suzanne Talhouk. She beautifully explains how our mother tongue is the best carrier of our culture and that we should not distort it or shy away from it because it is ‘uncool’ to speak in one’s mother-tongue.