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TEDxDubai - Bashar Atiyat - 10/10/09

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Maybe it all comes down to how we deal with perceptions. Please welcome to the Tedx stage Bashar Atiyat Applause wow Ok they don't tell you theres an "x" here that makes you feel like a target Laughter James that doesn't help with the hammer earlier.. but.. My name is Bashar Atiyat. I am an actor and a film consultant in Hollywood, California I come from an Arab, Bedouin background from Jordan to be more specific Applause Thank you. Oh Jordanians, alright! Thank you Been in Hollywood for 17 years and I want to talk about changing a distorted image The image I'm talking about is actually the image of Arabs and Muslims in Hollywood This is something I've been seeing in the last 17 years, and I've seen the change About the.. which one is the clicker? yeah. Alright I wanna talk about the stereotype. They do stereotype, but yes But actually, recently I just found that we also do it I'm sure you all know about the show "24". Very influential, in that, in feeding into that stereotypical image about the Muslims and Arabs We just wanna kill the world. We wanna kill everybody. At least thats what the show says but actually, I've just recently found out that I do it, as well. Let me explain Everybody please meet "Leeland" I met this guy at a coffee shop, Starbucks in Hollywood, and the first time I looked at him I said: Ok here we go. Thats another guy. Rough, rugged, tough, redneck who knows nothing about nothing 45 minutes later, I found myself sitting with one of the most intelligent people I've ever met in my life This gentleman builds sets for movies, like 100s and 1000s in Hollywood, for living But his hobby is building hydrogen fuel cells a technology we haven't even understood yet His car has much better fuel efficiency than the latest model came out of GM I stereotyped this guy I was thinking he's stupid I did the counter-stereotypical thing. So I thought, wow I just did what I'm always fighting against: The terrorist thing then I thought,what about, how do we change this? Who can accept the change? Do we accept the change? do they accept the change? well, accepting the change is in different ways. You can accept the change in your own thoughts, you can accept it with what you say, with what you do, in different ways. I'm a Bedouin, I live in Hollywood. I have 2 beds but I sleep on the floor. laughter I have a dining table but most of the time I eat on the floor. I love watching T.V every night, sitting on the floor, while I have a couch in the back I guess, you cannot, as Giorgio said: You cannot take the Bedouin out of a Bedouin. laughter You cannot change that To the point where my friends from Hollywood, they come, see me, stay sometimes; stay over and they see my culture. The way I live, the way I talk and speak and walk and do things They started calling me the Bedouin in Hollywood and I thought this is like really pitting holing or you know, another stereotype or it could be a good propaganda for me but then I overlooked that, and I thought, a Bedouin in Hollywood! Have they actually accepted an Arab Bedouin in Hollywood? they know that I worked with them for the last 17 years. Have they accepted a Bedouin in Hollywood? they know I'm an Arab. They see me pray, they see me fast, they see me do things They've accepted a Bedouin in Hollywood Another example outside of Hollywood One of the side jobs - long time ago, about 12 years ago, when I was a student to support myself, I used to work as a Country dance instructor Laughter Thank you Thats the Bedouin in boots, but... Laughter actually, a Bedouin teaching Cowboys how to dance Country? laughter That was weird, but actually they've accepted because I talked to them, I did business with them, I mingled with them, I lived within them and no matter what the politics at that time said.. during September 11, I was doing this job, as a side job. September 11. I had Cowboys.. the biggest country club in the world called "Cowboys" actually, and Cowboys came to the country club and say Bashar you're great, no matter what they say on T.V I thought that was really powerful because they know who I am - People to people they've seen me work with them, so there is the will to change one of the strongest tools humans have ever came up with is "Media" before I go any further, is Dr. Nayef here? I want to say "Thank you to this gentleman. I met him here in Tedx. Just a couple of days ago *applause* Please! yes.... Again applause I haven't told him yet. I wanted to keep it here, to save it to the stage I heard about the "99" back in Hollywood. Not from him here! He did exactly what I want out of you. Out of everyone - I'm not talking about Arabs and Muslims I'm talking about everyone who lives here in this region because it affects everyone who lives here I'm not on the American side, I'm not on the Arab side, I'm on the human side I realize that people, no matter, regardless of religion, background, and skin color and language, whatever it is - People are people. can we use this media to connect people to people? I'll tell you how strong Media is politics is the biggest user of media politics has a very strong tool, more than weapons, more than whatever foreign policies or whatever you call it its called "Media" AlJazeera Channel, comes out from an Arab state called Qatar, is the main source of news in the US, believe it or not Media - Use it we don't use it enough now how do we use it as a solution? How do we use media as a solution it tickles me every time I see the commercial from Dubai Department of Tourism in Hollywood Atlantis Hotel commercial in Hollywood these little things, they're just commercial, I know they're commercial, but you know what? it was to the point that people, have never been to the Middle East by the way, they want to come and see the Middle East. They want to come see Dubai. some of them think Dubai is a country on its own, outside of the Middle East thats how much they don't know, but you know what! They love Dubai Media is extremely powerful, but we're not using it. How do we change that distorted image using media? First, educate. First, educate! and you cannot blame a person for not knowing. you can blame yourself if you have the knowledge and not teaching him we have the knowledge about our culture. About our religion and I'm not talking about us only Arabs, everybody who lives here - you have the responsibility of this you cannot blame them for stereotyping us - most of the time for misjudging us. I think we're not doing enough - unfortunately and we have a very powerful solution, very powerful tool called "Media" Media, I think, if its print, if its Internet which is really powerful these days, if its TV. film; the US is a film culture! They love film. Use it. I like to use always film, I want to use more films from this region our culture is 10,000 years old for god's sake - we have a lot more stories than they do but we're not telling them people will always take what you give them what are we giving them? I know for sure Dr. Nayef is giving them he is giving them. I've seen his effect. I've never met him; I met him here on Tedx actually but I've seen what he's trying to give them I love it It tickles me when I see that they are accepting the change. They are accepting us. The Bedouin in Hollywood is a good example I'll tell you my best example of accepting a Bedouin in Hollywood going to a meeting in the back lot in Universal Studios and a guy, I don't know, he saw me on a shoot or worked with me on a shoot or something, jumps out of some commercial they're shooting on the back lot and he says: "Yo, Bedouin! Wassup" laughter I said: "Bedouin, wassup?" well thats crossing culture but.. he in his own different way in "Bedouin, wassup" he was okay with it to call me Bedouin, knows I'm a Bedouin and he just mingled with it he went along with it. I'm his friend Leeland, the one I misjudged, he's actually my friend now but, we are not reaching out enough. I want everyone who lives here, who knows about here, who is Muslim, who is Arab, who is other religion, whatever you are part of this region, you are affected by that negative image and its part of you who needs to educate them the more you give tools and toys to kids, the less creative they become if you don't give them they become more creative thats why they are creative and assuming things about our culture being creative is good. But please do not be creative on the account of my culture and religion be as creative as much as you want. Hollywood is about creativeness, isn't it? but not on the account of my own culture. Let me educate you. Let me reach out to you one of the good things I always use as joking the American culture is light-hearted culture. They love to joke Few weeks ago I was invited to another seminar at the Academy of Motion Picture and as I was going in there was a security guard who's checking with the x-ray the ladies purses and so on I leave the x-ray - I just like to joke; I'm an Arab, I can joke about Arabs, right - so, I leave the x-ray, and I go to the security guard and I do this... and he looks at me confused. Then the supervisor comes running: "Mr. Atiyat what are you doing?" I said: "What? I'm an Arab" laughter I was joking, but look at the response. He said: "Well, we're hoping people like you will change that image" These are the guys who give the Oscars they are willing to change. Everybody is willing to change but they don't know enough its our responsibility now to take advantage like Dr. Nayef and others to actually reach out to people once we reach out to people they will reach out back to you, I guarantee you. they've done it to me, I'm sure they will do it to you and everybody who lives in this region People to people and before I leave, I want to give you an example of people-to-people, actually its TED in the last couple of days I met the next speaker which I will present. James, you will not present the next speaker laughter The next speaker I met actually couple of days ago on TED, here, turns out to be my cousin laughter I know that sounds bad .. really.. my cousin she brought the family tree, and we are actually cousins, we found where we are connected I found a cousin so its not only people-to-people, its actually cousin-to-cousin this time and she's going to speak up next, I'm done with my speech and her topic is going to be unleashing hidden talents everybody please welcome my newly-found cousin Khulood Al Atiyat applause

Video Details

Duration: 13 minutes and 5 seconds
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: Giorgio Ungania
Director: Giorgio Ungania
Views: 157
Posted by: giorgiotedx on Jan 24, 2010

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x=independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations) Our event is call TEDxDubai, where x=independently organized TED event.

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