Times of Oman
Sep 01, 2015 LAST UPDATED AT 07:15 PM GMT
.Open Minds - All set to synergise, motivate and educate in Muscat
August 18, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Beat Box brilliance, Tom Thum. Supplied photo

Luminaries from diverse backgrounds such as entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson; author Lord Jeffrey Archer; entrepreneur humanitarian HRH Basmah bint Saud Al Saud; mountaineer Tom Whittaker; entrepreneur Sahar Hashemi; Satellady Candace Johnson; speed painter Brad Blaze; Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler; beat boxer Tom Thum and well known Omani scholar Sheikh Khalfan Al Esry will share their success stories at thought-leadership forum .Open Minds on September 3 and 4 at Al Bustan Palace Hotel

An exceptional line-up of speakers will arrive in Oman to participate in the thought-leadership forum .Open Minds. The two-day event to be held on September 3 and 4 at the Oman Auditorium of Al Bustan Palace Hotel (a Ritz Carlton Hotel) has generated a lot on interest in the community.

Black & White are the organisers of the event. The strategic partners are Bank Muscat, Nawras, AVOD (Areej Vegetable Oils and Derivatives), Ministry of Tourism, the official airline is Oman Air, the official newspapers are Times of Oman and Al Shabiba and Official radio partners - Merge
& Al Wisal Luminaries from diverse backgrounds such as entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson; award-winning author, Lord Jeffrey Archer; entrepreneur humanitarian, HRH Basmah bint Saud Al Saud, mountaineer Tom Whittaker; entrepreneur Sahar Hashemi; Satellady Candace Johnson and speed painter Brad Blaze; Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler and beat boxer Tom Thum will share their success stories.

The main Omani speaker for the event will be the well known scholar and success coach, Sheikh Khalfan Al Esry.

Organisers hope that it will be a unique dialogue platform of global level which will set off a revolution of ideas, innovation and inspiration among budding Omani entrepreneurs.

"The objective of .Open Minds is to synergise, motivate and educate (SME) young Omani entrepreneurs and the corporate sector," said Mohamed Issa Al Zadjali, chairman, Black & White. 

He added that the event will be packed with "experience, knowledge, thoughts, positivity, inspiration, attitude, entertainment and presentation.

Turning ideas into reality

Sir Richard Branson

Richard Branson's Facebook profile describes him as a "tie-loathing adventurer & thrill seeker, who believes in turning ideas into reality. Branson founded Virgin Records which went on to sign household names like The Rolling Stones to become the biggest independent label in the world.

Since Branson founded Virgin Atlantic in 1984, it has established itself as a leading global airline. Virgin Australia, Virgin America, Virgin Holidays, Virgin Limited Edition, Virgin Trains, Virgin Hotels and Virgin Galactic have followed in travel, while expansion elsewhere has seen Branson become the only person to build eight billion dollar companies in eight different sectors.

Branson has challenged himself with many record breaking adventures, including the fastest ever Atlantic Ocean crossing, a series of hot air balloon adventures and kite surfing across the English Channel. He has described Virgin Galactic, the world's first commercial spaceline, as being "the greatest adventure of all". Space travel has been a dream for Branson since he watched the moon landings on TV, and he registered the Virgin Galactic name in 1999.

Testing for commercial service is underway, with Branson planning to join his family on the first space flight.

He is also a record breaker online, voted the UK's number one Twitter user, the world's most social CEO and the world's most followed person on LinkedIn. Branson maintains a daily blog on http://virgin.com discussing everything from entrepreneurship, conservation and sustainability to travel, music and humour. He has more than 11.5 million followers across five social networks. He has also written six books. Branson was awarded a knighthood in 1999 for services to entrepreneurship. 

International best-seller
Lord Jeffrey Archer

Jeffrey Archer was born in London, brought up in Somerset, the son of a printer, and educated at Wellington School, and Brasenose College, Oxford.

Aged 34, he sat down to write his first novel Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less. His second novel, Shall We Tell the President? got tremendous response. According to his official website, with two best-sellers behind him, Kane and Abel came next. Jeffrey followed this with A Quiver Full of Arrows, a varied collection of short stories that received major critical acclaim. This was followed by The Prodigal Daughter, the sequel to Kane and Abel. And then came the novel Jeffrey Archer was destined to write, with his detailed knowledge and past experience as a Member of Parliament, First Among Equals. In 1986, Jeffrey Archer published A Matter of Honour: a tale about a letter that was never opened by the keeper, only to be passed on to his son after his death. It is the opening of this letter that changes one family's lives forever.

His novel, Sons of Fortune, was published in December 2002, and his 12th, False Impression, in March 2006. A Prisoner of Birth, was published in March 2008 and topped the best-seller lists around the world. Jeffrey is also a playwright, and has written Beyond Reasonable Doubt, Exclusive and The Accused among others.

Jeffrey's latest project is a seven-book saga called The Clifton Chronicles.

Now published in 97 countries and more than 37 languages, Jeffrey Archer is firmly established, with international sales passing 270 million copies.  He is the only author ever to have been a number one best-seller in fiction (eighteen times), short stories (four times) and non-fiction (The Prison Diaries).

Satellite industry pioneer
Candace Johnson

Candace Johnson has been named 'one of the 50 most powerful businesswomen in Europe' by leading media houses. International telecommunications expert and entrepreneur, Candace Johnson is  co-initiator of the Astra satellite system and SES Global, the world's largest satellite systems. She is also founding president of Europe Online, the world's first and largest independent Satellite Broadband Network, and founder of Loral Cyberstar-Teleport Europe, Europe's first independent private trans-border satellite communications network. She is also founding President of the VATM, the Association of Private Telecom Operators in Germany and founding President of the Global Telecom Women's Network (GTWN).

Candace shows decision makers how to set up and build companies with real value. She also demonstrates how affordable and excellent communication tools can make a major difference to bottom line profits.

Since 1983 she has been a member of the board and a member of the special committee of Société Européenes des Satellites, the company which operates Astra Satellites and which commands 80% of the Direct-to-Home satellite television market in Europe. She is president of Global Telecom Women's Network comprising 40 international female directors, vice presidents and presidents of telecoms and Internet companies.

Author of numerous articles published in reputable technical magazines, Candace has been honoured for her contributions to advances in telecommunications. 

Beat Box brilliance
Tom Thum

Armed with just a microphone, Tom Thum pushes the limits of the human voice to create incredible sound tracks of impossible beats and phenomenal sounds, with scratched vinyl, the Michael Jackson back catalogue, the didgeridoo and an entire '50s jazz band amongst his vocal repertoire. Footage of his performance at TEDx Sydney 2013 recently became the most watched TEDx video of all time, with over 18 million hits.

Only in his mid-twenties, Tom Thum has achieved and experienced more than most artists could hope to achieve in a lifetime. From winning the team battles (alongside Joel Turner) in the World Beatbox Championships in 2005, to fulfilling every artist's dream and performing on Broadway in New York with the Tom Tom Crew, Tom has seen his fair share of accolades and well and truly paid his dues. Raised by the small but accommodating Brisbane hip hop scene, Tom started out as a graffiti writer and Bboy but slowly rose to recognition through his ability to produce un-human sounds and his natural knack for performing.

Although the stage seems the ideal habitat for Tom, he is also no stranger to community and has been helping the scene improve through conducting a plethora of workshops in many places that usually wouldn't have access to such knowledge and skill.

As Tom's experience within the music industry expands, he plans to push the limits of the human voice as far as inhumanly possible.

Enrolling the help of numerous loop stations, Tom has been conducting DJ sets using only his voice and nothing else, propelling crowds across the country into a frenzy of jaw-dropping disbelief, as he re-creates and remixes classic joints and jams from all eras and genres.

Inspirational entrepreneur
Sahar Hashemi

Sahar Hashemi founded Coffee Republic, the UK's first US style coffee bar chain with her brother and built it into one of the UK's most recognised high street brands with 110 bars and a turnover of £30m. Giving up professional careers (she as a lawyer in London and Bobby as an investment banker in New York) they staked everything on a dream and made Coffee Republic one of the main players in the coffee revolution that transformed the UK high street.

Her biography in her official website states, Sahar left the day-to-day management of Coffee Republic in 2001 and published a bestselling book Anyone Can Do It – Building Coffee Republic from Our Kitchen Table, which has been translated into 6 languages. In 2005 she founded Skinny Candy, a brand of sugar free sweets.

Skinny Candy was sold to confectionery conglomerate Glisten PLC in 2007.

Her book, Switched On, focuses on 8 habits that foster a more entrepreneurial mind-set for employees.  It is based on her experience of the transformation in culture when a small entrepreneurial company becomes big and successful, when the obvious and easy entrepreneurial habits are often forgotten as bureaucracy take over.

In 2011 she was invited to join the Entrepreneurs Forum set up by UK Business Secretary Vince Cable to give informal personal advice to the government on enterprise policies. She currently sits on the Consumer Council of EON UK Plc.

In June 2012 Sahar was awarded an OBE for services to the UK economy and to charity.

Motivational expert
Sheikh Khalfan Al Esry

A graduate of mechanical engineering from Napier University in Scotland, Khalfan is a recognised speaker, coach and facilitator on personal leadership and human development with extensive knowledge and experience in multicultural management and organisational behaviour spanning for more than 20 years. His passion is in bringing out the best in people through interactive engagement that is fun, simple and inspirational.

His friendly and charismatic personality coupled with the ability to connect with people, have qualified him to bring out the best in people with impressive results. Sheikh Khalfan Al-Esry, is co-founder and managing director of the Omani company Prosper, and has over 20 years experience working in the technical and people management fields.

Testament to courage
Tom Whittaker

Tom Whittaker rocked conventional wisdom when, as an amputee, he created a world first by becoming the first person with a disability to climb Mount Everest.

With 35 years of experience in teamwork, leadership and motivation training Tom Whittaker is an educator and expert and human achievement. He has two Masters Degrees from Idaho State University's College of Education and pursued Doctoral studies at Colorado State University in the School of Human Resources.

Tom Whittaker became a naturalised American citizen in 1986. Twenty years later he was inducted into "The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire" by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace when he was awarded an MBE, for service to people with disabilities and mountaineering.

Tom Whittaker currently serves as the executive director of the Call to Duty Foundation that is dedicated to integrating service men and women from Iraq and Afghanistan back into the society they fought to protect. He lives in the mountains of Arizona with his two young daughters.

World's fastest painter
Brad Blaze

Brad Blaze may just be the fastest painter in the world.  He has enthralled audiences across Australia, Asia, United Arab Emirates and The United States performing at large get-togethers with guests including government ministers, celebrities and the social elite.

At such events he has painted four prime ministers and some of the world's leading sportsmen 'live' at events.

Brad spent the beginnings of his career working his 'way up the corporate ladder' of an international finance company.  On his way to and from work on the train he honed his skills quickly sketching other passengers without them knowing and over nine years reading every single 'how to' art based book ever published. Although he has had a love for drawing since he was a child, it wasn't until the year 2000, that he found his calling.

He became highly skilled in caricature art, winning awards and being hired to travel throughout the world.  What set him apart from other artists was his talent in drawing and capturing the likeness of a subject extremely fast. In 2005 he developed his very own unique show and launched it on the very first episode of Australia's Got Talent.

After only six short years of entertaining audiences with his unique show, Brad was awarded Entertainer of the Year at the Australian Event Awards. He has now raised over one million dollars for charities and is in high demand internationally.

Around the world
Tony Wheeler

By the time Tony Wheeler co-founded Lonely Planet Publications in 1973, he already had the travel bug. And ever since, travel and discovery have been at the heart of his life and career. In his website he says, "When Maureen (his wife) and he arrived in Sydney the day after Christmas 1972, after a six month Asia overland trip from Europe, they had 27 cents left between us. In late 1973 they started Lonely Planet Publications to publish Across Asia on the Cheap, the story of their trip from London to Australia. They spent the following year travelling around South-East Asia and in early 1975 published their second book, South-East Asia on a Shoestring.

From those early guidebooks Lonely Planet Publications grew to become the world's largest independent guidebook publisher with offices in London and Oakland as well as the head office in Melbourne. In 2011 they completed the sale of Lonely Planet.

He keeps busy with Planet Wheeler, the foundation Maureen and he set up after they left Lonely Planet although their daughter Tashi spends more time on it than we do. Then there's the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing & Ideas in Melbourne, Australia with something on most days (and nights) of the week. Tony is on the board of Global Heritage Fund, a wonderful organisation working to protect and develop archaeological sites in the developing world."

HRH Princess Basmah Bint Saud bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud

She is a gifted and professional social writer, columnist, political analyst and humanitarian activist with an excellent and unique appreciation of global politics.

Her official website describe her thus: HRH Princess Basmah is not only a keen analyst in political and social issues and a humanitarian activist, she is also a sports development enthusiast, playing a leading role in the Arab world and particularly in her own culture.

She is a dedicated observer of humanitarianism and journalism at both the local and international levels.

After a long career in running her own businesses in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and chairing many companies with leading roles in business, the environment and marketing, HRH Princess Basmah recently moved to London and established Inseed Holding Company. Inseed is an umbrella which spans her business interests, and is intended to become a leading company in Europe, if not the world.

As a woman born into the Saudi Royal family, against the odds Princess Basmah occupies a rare position as a bold writer and critic.

She has an outstanding record of fighting for justice, human rights and freedom for the people in the Arab world.

For more information and registration:
bwopenminds@gmail.com, Contact: 98675976/24565697

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