A Thought Provoking Night: PechaKucha AlKhobar

PechaKucha is a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (6 minutes and 40 seconds in total). The format, which keeps presentations concise and fast-paced, powers multiple-speaker events called PechaKucha Nights. This year, on the 20th of September, 2013, PechaKucha Night AlKhobar took place in a cozy venue, hosting a carefully selected line-up of inspirational speakers to provide the audience with food for thought.

F62A2863-1 (dragged)

The organizing team introduced the concept of PechKucha to the audience

After an introduction to the concept by the organizing team and preparing us for what we were in for that night, the first speaker, Mohamed Ali from Bahrain, took to the stage. A humanitarian activist, life coach, and an “imperfection advocate”, Mohamed inspired the audience talking about his trip to Dadaab Refugee Camps in Kenya, and how we as individuals can make a change in other people’s lives. Mohamed showed pictures of children writing on tree barks for school, because books were simply unavailable, saying: “We strive to reach our goals, when people in African countries in need strive to live to see the next day. We know from media that African living conditions are harsh, but we wanted to see the truth for ourselves. Unable to collect donations by then to give the community we visited new clothes, we donated some of our own that we packed with us for the trip. The first lesson you learn from seeing living conditions in harsh areas in places like Somalia is that: water is life.”



Mohammed Ali on his trip to Dadaab Refugee Camps in Kenya

Mohamed’s six minutes were soon over, and Wafa Alobaidat from Bahrain, Creative Director of agency Obai & Hill and founder of Sketchbook Magazine, took to the stage next. Wafa shared her experience of starting her own business, the obstacles she faced, what she learned, and how she strives to collaborate with young local talents in an effort to highlight the Gulf region as the thriving hotspot for arts. “Sketchbook Magazine was born out of the will of doing what I love for a living. Being an entr         epreneur means taking risks and making the best of whatever space you have. Goals inspire me to achieve what a lot of people think is impossible. Failures are tough to deal with but focusing on the foundation of your business is key. Starting agency Obai & Hill was one of my greatest achievements with continuous teamwork with my peers.”

F62A3014-1 (dragged)

 Wafa Alobaidat on starting her own business, doing what she loves for a living

Marking the end of Wafa’s six minutes, Abeera Atique’s photos of her students’ artwork appeared on the screen, complimenting her talk on the Psychology of Art. A Fine Art Teacher at Dhahran High school, Saudi Arabia, and a holder of a Masters in Fine Arts and Bachelors in Home Economics. “Your method of drawing says a lot about who you are as a person. For example, drawing a tree says what you think about your mother and a drawing of the sun says the same about your father. Drawings of scribbles by children are a way of expression of innocent anger that must be paid attention to. All colours have a meaning when incorporated into a drawing, and the pressure on the paper is significant and should be paid attention to.” Watch out for Sketchbook’s exclusive in-depth interview with Abeera.

F62A3142-1 (dragged)

Abeera Atique on the Psychology of Art

Next up, Basma Orri from Saudi Arabia inspired the audience with her story; she was a typically lost teenager in need of direction and meaning, until she realized the importance of a role model. Following the footsteps, habits, and overall being of her role model, Basma established her independence by taking up the sport of Taekwondo and achieving a red belt and learned how to cope with life’s many changes, how to deal with different people, ultimately leading her to live a better life. “I was a teenager with confused dreams, until I realized the importance of a role model. Learn forgiveness, optimism, and kindness from role models no matter what era they lived in. I learned from my role model that charity comes from a smile, to work hard, and always be kind. If you feel lost, follow your role model’s steps to understand where you belong. I questioned if it was okay to play Taekwondo as a woman in the Middle East, but I went for it anyway & I achieved a Red Belt.”

F62A3277-1 (dragged)

Basma Orri on the importance of a role model

Ali Iftikhar, Saudi-based architect and self-described “social engineer” at heart with a peculiar interest in design and photography, went up next as he showcased a selection of photos taken and edited as part of two projects. “As an architect and photographer, I try to create thought provoking ideas through projects. “A Life Goes On” is a project of moments of life at different times around the world. Through this project, we reflect on the nature of humans in their true form by capturing raw moments. We often ignore the significance of architecture and its effect on how we live the way we do. Photographs are food for thought to provoke feelings and bring back memories.”

F62A3341-1 (dragged)

Ali Iftikhar on the importance of photography in life

“I wanted to ask my father if I could go to Mount Everest, so I dropped him an email”, said the next speaker. Samaher Mously was one of the brave Saudi women who took off for a climb on Mount Everest to raise Breast Cancer awareness and stress on the importance of maintain an active lifestyle as a means of preventing the disease. “A lot of people don’t understand the idea of climbing, ‘your mind is clear of all confusions’. It’s beautiful to be away from all forms of technology and enjoy being a part of nature. Our trek was part of a Breast Cancer Awareness campaign – excercise is a form of precaution. Limitations, whether physical or social, only exist in your mind.”


Samaher Mously on her effort to raise Breast Cancer Awareness in Saudi Arabia

Last but not least came the story of a professional public speaker who grew up with a stutter. Mohammed Qahtani learned to face his fear of public speaking by joining his local Toastmasters. “Stuttering usually develops in childhood and could be a great social barrier. The fear of speaking to people is a fear that people with a stutter live with every day. Toastmasters club teaches you to develop public speaking skills and climb your way to the top. If you surround yourself with people who will encourage you, you will achieve the impossible. I suffered from stuttering as a child, but grew to face my fear of speaking & have now achieved it. 98% of stutter in people is psychological, not physical. Find tools & help to overcome your fears, they are always available, and build the power to overcome.” Watch out for Sketchbook’s exclusive in-depth interview with Mohammed.

F62A3488-1 (dragged)

Mohammed Qahtani on overcoming fears

The audience was left in awe by the six-minute short inspirational stories of professional and personal journeys of self-discovery, as were the speakers by their peers. PechaKucha proved once again to be one of the most effective methods of communication, of spreading a message, and of inspiring others.


Travel, volunteer, believe, inspire, and reach the world

Sketchbook Magazine was proud to be PechaKucha Night AlKhobar’s media partner and we look forward to more of these in the near future.


WORDS BY: Dunia Mudara

IMAGES: Misbah Hammoud Courtesy of PechaKucha Alkhobar