Yasser Bahjatt Presents "Can Science Fiction Stimulate Scientific Innovation in the Middle East' in Austin

One Man's Crusade to Bring Sci-fi and Inspire Scientific and Technological Innovation in the Arab World

Yasser Bahjatt

Hosted by GlobalAustin in partnership with the University of Texas Club, The Capital Factory, Malvern Books, and organized by the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, author Yasser Bahjatt will explore the social and creative role of science fiction in the Arab World and its potential to transform at three talks in Austin, Texas.

Drawing on his background in technology, his experiences developing a creative engine for science fiction in Saudi Arabia and his own writings, Bahjatt's talk "Legend of the Imaginary: Science Fiction as the Starting Point for Reality" explores his theory that no technological advance in the last 200 years was born of an original thought, but that all new technology can be traced to its inception in a science fiction novel.

The talk will occur on:

  • December 8, 11:30am-1:30pm, University of Texas Club, free.
  • December 9, 10:00am-12:00pm, The Capital Factory, free.

Founder of the trailblazing League of Arabic SciFiers and author, Bahjatt will also read from his 2015 novel Yaqteenya: The Old World, which posits an alternate history for Arabian society. In this novel, the world of Yaqteenya is facing its first civil war. Young Al-Baz must risk breaking the law to leave home and search for answers that will reveal truths that the rulers of the land have been keeping well hidden to save his world from a disastrous future.

The reading will be held on:

  • December 8, 7:00pm-9:00pm, Malvern Books, free.

Bahjatt has been on the forefront of promoting science fiction in the Arab World. His support of science fiction has created the League of Arabic SciFi-ers (Yatakhayaloon) and a local publishing house dedicated to printing and supplying Arabic-language science fiction novels to the Middle East where science fiction is rare.

But this lack of pervasiveness is not due to lack of demand; Bahjatt’s first co-authored novel HWJN soared to the top of the Saudi bestseller list and remained there for several months, despite being banned in neighboring Kuwait and Bahrain. By increasing accessibility to science fiction – a genre renowned for its reconstruction of societal norms and limits, Bahjatt hopes to create space for imagination, in a region where it’s often suppressed. Bahjatt also purports that by promoting science fiction, there will be an imagination of the realm of possibility in the sciences, inspiring new scientific and technological innovations.

Yasser Bahjatt is also a translator, software developer, and entrepreneur. Bahjatt manages business development at Quad Dimensions Tech, and has a background in the gaming industry.- Bahjatt’s dedication to sharing technological and scientific innovation led him to be the first to translate TED talks into Arabic; he is now a translator at TED conferences worldwide. He holds a B.A. in Computer Engineering, certificate-holder from Cambridge University’s MOSAIC leadership and management program in the United Kingdom. He was the first Saudi graduate of Singularity University (SU) in Silicon Valley, CA, where he founded Matternet, a project that aims to alleviate poverty and accelerate growth through roadless transportation networks.

Bahjatt will also appear in Kansas City, MO and San Francisco, CA as part of his U.S. tour.

About The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture​

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture is a one-of-a-kind institution that brings together multiple offerings under one roof. From arts and culture to science and innovation, this bold initiative of Saudi Aramco promises a continuous journey of enrichment designed to energize the next knowledge economy of Saudi Arabia. The Center aims to make a positive and tangible impact on the cultural scene by focusing on building local talents in creative industries. Blending iconic architectural design with advanced technology, and unique learning methods with enriching programs, the Center is an infinitely inspiring platform for explorers, learners, creators, and leaders – a thriving hub of knowledge, creativity and cross-cultural engagement. As the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia strives to achieve its ambitious national development goals to transition to a knowledge-based economy, the Center acts as a bridge connecting cultures and cultivating a creative and innovative community. For more information, visit: http://en.kingabdulazizcenter.com.

About GlobalAustin

Since 1960, GlobalAustin has hosted international visitors to the greater Austin area, introducing them to the vitality and generosity of Central Texas. Through the U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), we have welcomed thousands of international visitors interested in Austin's economy, architecture, environment, city government, technology, and entrepreneurial, innovative culture. In 2016 alone, we hosted 56 foreign delegations with 269 international visitors from 91 countries, including Citizen Diplomacy receptions and home visits for many of them. In addition to the IVLP program, we host a Distinguished Speaker Series, provide scholarships for area students planning to study abroad, screen films, host internationally-themed events, and in cooperation with some seventy other non-profits, publish the online International Austin Events Calendar. For more information, visit: www.GlobalAustin.org/news | www.internationalaustin.org.


Margie Kidd
Executive Director, GlobalAustin
​Email: info@globalaustin.org
Phone: +1.512.215.0140

Source: GlobalAustin


Categories: Non Profit, Announcement

Tags: Austin Texas, Global Austin, Science Fiction, Yasser Bahjatt

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GlobalAustin is a non-profit with over 50 years of leadership in citizen diplomacy. We are a group of internationally minded Austinites who welcome leaders from around the world through the design and implementation of professional exchange programs.