Arabic crash course with Mahmoud at TEDActive2012

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A few weeks ago, the following message was posted in the TEDActive2012 Attendees Facebook group:

"Special Request! Anyone here speak Arabic who would be able to spend a few minutes everyday with some of us in some basic language lessons? It would be for some of us who will be going to Doha, Qatar for the TEDx Summit. Thanks!"

Of course it didn't take Anwar Dafa-Alla long to put up his hand, and to ask Mahmoud Aghiorly to join him.

The first course was scheduled for 28 February 9:00 AM at the Idea Lounge. When I bumped into Mahmoud on my way to the venue, I decided to tag along and to learn a few words of Arabic, even if I had no plans to go to Doha. Anwar was not difficult to spot in the crowd: in his bright white traditional Sudanese gown, he shone even more than usual. So much, that by the time we got to the Idea Lounge, we had lost him. He seems to know everybody, and they all want to talk to him.

Luckily, Mahmoud was well prepared and more than up to the task. He showed us a couple of samples of Arabic writing, some calligraphic, some plain. With enthusiasm and a big grin on his face, he explained that "I love you" ends on an open sound, whereas "I hate you" is closed at the end. We learned that if you put the stress in Qatar on the wrong syllable (it should be the first one), it means "rain". And we learned essentials such as "where is the hotel?", "taxi!", "thank you", "hi, how are you?" - and of course "I don't understand you".

Mahmoud's name tag says he is a civil engineer. He works in planning. As such, I guess he may from time to time be involved in building bridges in concrete and steel. But I will share a secret with you. Mahmoud is really a poet. Remember the issue of bridging the gap between TEDx Organizers and TED Translators? Piece of cake for Mahmoud. He does it in half an hour of Arabic crash course.

Mahmoud, my friend, you are a gem. Which reminds me that I need to ask you during today's session how you say "friend" in Arabic. Meet you at 9:00 AM in the Idea Lounge!

--User:ElsDK 14:31, 29 February 2012 (UTC)