Saturday, 12 December 2009


Last GeekFest saw the introduction of GeekTalks, 15 minute chats held in The Shelter's cool li'l private cinema from people with something sensible, interesting and certainly not commercial to say. We're hoping to carry on that tradition with four more GeekTalks taking place this GeekFest at The Shelter, Al Quoz on Thursday 17th December. People will start pitching at GeekFest from about 7pm onwards, the talks start at 8pm and space in the cinema is limited.

This time around, we're to be hearing about the future for mosques, University publishing and social networks, the new and personal learning environments.

The speakers aren't set by us - the idea is that each speaker nominates his or her successor. This means we're not 'gatekeepers' and also, we hope, introduces some interesting diversity.

Thanks to some user feedback from people who got cold bottoms last time, we're adding some beanbags for when the seating runs out.

Omran Al Owais

Prayer Mat: Prototype Zabeel Park Mosque

In this presentation, I will be highlighting on how we can evolve a mosque design and avoid the typical Jumeirah style dome and useless old dated ornamentation. I want to bring Dubai and UAE culture into creating a newer style that we can spread to the world and stop importing Marrakesh architecture. Also, in this design, it will be fused with a built in museum, which displays the history of the prayer mat.

Emirati architect and designer Omran Al Owais is the Creative Director/founder of CENTIMETERCUBE architects/publishing and is a passionate Mac advocate. He’s our nomination as a GeekTalker on Catalin Marin’s behalf.

Jack Frizzell

Creating an Online Newspaper and Social Network

Inside ZU is currently an online communication platform - WordPress Multiuser - which we are using to move from email notification to two-way communication. It encourages open communication and community. The next stages will move us into online collaboration, citizen journalism and content creation and publication through the use of BuddyPress and other free technologies. Inside ZU is currently only for all students, all faculty and all staff at Zayed University.

Zayed University, until recently, was a University exclusively for Emirati women. During the past 5 years, the University has opened its doors to male military personnel, and now male and female international students while expanding its post-graduate programs. The issues of a multi-site educational institution, religion, gender, age, technology adoption and educational background and the required social and technological support and strategy required to succeed are the focus of the talk.

Jack Frizzell hails from Zayed University where he edits Inside ZU and lurks in the Provost’s office. He is James Piecowye’s nomination as a GeekTalker.

Ahmed Shabib

Making a better brown bag was launched as an online retail platform that let people browse and buy a wide range of commodities such as groceries, movies, food and drink, magazines and books. Next year, Brownbag will be relaunching with new partners and products and delivery of any product ordered from the site to anywhere in Dubai City within an hour – at any hour. Ahmed Shabib will be exploring challenges of online retailing in the Middle East as well as looking for feedback on the new platform.

Ahmed Shabib is CEO of Brownbag and one of the chaps behind The Shelter. He’s speaking because Tom Gara didn’t nominate a speaker so The Shelter did! :)

Dan Stuart

Creating a Personal Learning Environment

If you're a geek, then you're online, and if you're online then you’re most definitely doing some or all of networking, sharing, commenting, reading feeds, self-casting, clipping, commenting, absorbing...and suffering under the noise. Social Media and Web 2.0 are great social venues, but also amazing tools for personal learning. If you’re already active online, with a bit of thinking, arranging and customizing you can shape your online pipes into a Personal Learning Environment (PLE). PLE’s are not single apps, but a self-defined, self-moderated set of online tools – the ones you already know and love – with the control to select, combine and use the tools as you see fit to shape your own learning experiences. The goal is use this PLE to gather and process info, and act on your learning.

Blogger and serial online adventurer Dan Stuart works at He’s Narain Jashanmal’s nomination as a GeekTalker.

If you want to know more about GeekFest, you'll find the info here or you can follow @geekfestdubai on Twittter.

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