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Baghdad Community Hackerspace Workshops's video poster

Baghdad was a hub of art, science & ideas. Inspire that attitude again by sharing hackerspaces with Iraq. Read more

Baghdad, Iraq Technology
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This project was successfully funded on September 18, 2012.

Baghdad was a hub of art, science & ideas. Inspire that attitude again by sharing hackerspaces with Iraq.

Baghdad, Iraq Technology
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About this project

Important: We only have two days. Help us fill out the last 50% of our funding!

Why should you fund this project? We've been getting questions about why it's important to run a popup hackerspace and why we're asking for 27,500 dollars. GEMSI works to create a cascade of hackerspaces across the Middle East and North Africa. We do this by supporting the development of short term and long term spaces. Our efforts start with temporary spaces and workshops to do community discovery and connections then leads to supporting the development of a year round space. This Kickstarter supports all this work but is focusing on our work this fall for Iraq. By our efforts in Beirut we are working to discover the translation of hackerspaces to the Middle Eastern cultural context which we hope to share with Baghdad. Beirut is also where we are running a comic hackathon at the hackerspace to illustrate the Iraqi stories. Lastly part of our funds have been allocated to a micro loan that  Middle Eastern hackerspaces can apply to to help with the hackerspace build out.

With our current funding efforts GEMSI is trying to step up and seriously consider the sustainability of our project and long term impact on the region. Please help if you can. If you can't, please share! 

You should probably read this exposition on why I think hackerspaces are awesome. Why they are growing globally. And for an overview of the Middle Eastern hackers and hackerspaces.

Who are we and what do we do?

GEMSI works to develop engagement, service, and entrepreneurship by uniting communities of makers around the world, facilitating the creation of hackerspaces, running workshops and creating platforms for storytelling. A hackerspace is a community-supported collaborative workshop where passionate people create and share. We believe that hackerspaces can act as a catalyst to unlock creativity, inspire action, and create hope. Hackerspaces build hope by giving people access to tools and a local/global community through which people are enabled to invent their own future.

We need your help.

We need your support to extend our reach into Baghdad. Without your support we cannot run these events in Iraq:

  • Riwaya wa Bidaya (Oct 5): A livestream conference to share stories of everyday superheroes in Baghdad who take initiative to solve problems. We are inviting submissions until Sept 22 [apply here!] - top stories will be illustrated by a professional graphic comic book artist and published in Arabic and English.
  • 'Amal wa Amal (Oct 18-19): In collaboration with TEDxBaghdad, we are setting up a temporary community hackerspace to share local tools and solutions. We hope this will provide an inspiration for an ongoing community and hackerspace to develop in Baghdad. Bringing in members of hackerspaces from the middle east to run workshops and share the process of creating a collaborative community space.

Our previous work in Egypt

We have a track record of success at sharing maker and hacker culture in the Middle East and North Africa. Our previous backers will remember that GEMSI ran a kickstarter last October to create a temporary hackerspace in Egypt – we're happy to say the world is a brighter place because of it! There are now at least 5 hackerspace initiatives in Egypt: Giza Hackerspace, FabLab Egypt, Cairo Hackerspace, El Minya Hackerspace, Alexandria Hackerspace. Egypt has also seen a successful making festival hosted by Fab Lab Egypt and Giza Hackerspace, and a home-brewed Cairo Maker Faire is in the works. 

In addition to creating collaborative community spaces, these makerspaces offer kids the chance to learn and explore with innovative tools that are typically inaccessible: 3D printers, laser cutters, open-source electronics, and more! Supported by passionate mentors, they have the opportunity to become involved with positive making activities first-hand. The broader community and its spaces are evolving over time and both success and failure generate great lessons to be shared. One success that we are joyful to see is the creative play coming out of Cairo. The beautiful lamp below was created in a competition co-sponsored by GEMSI and run by Mahmoud, a GEMSI member, out of FabLab Egypt and Giza Hackerspace. By calling upon the community to step up to this challenge, GEMSI helped offer a unique opportunity to anyone interested and driven to create.

1st place: Rana Bahaa for the Parametric Fanoos (above)
1st place: Rana Bahaa for the Parametric Fanoos (above)

Learn more about the Fanoos Ramadan competition and how Egyptian makers are utilizing community and modern technology to revitalize local manufacturing HERE.

Our goals for Iraq

GEMSI helped create a cascade of hackerspaces and collaborative action in Egypt and Beirut and now we want to see it happen in Baghdad. Here's a story to help you imagine a vision for the future that we think is beautiful:

Imagine you are a young Iraqi student, just graduating college. Opportunities to work in the country are few, and working outside Iraq is difficult due to strict visa requirements. Your country still experiences violence weekly, while also facing many technical challenges characteristic of a developing country. You want to build the country, you want to share – but you feel isolated. You hear about a group of people who have an open space near the center of town where you can build almost anything. One day you decide to see what it’s about. There, you find others like you: looking at the world around them and thinking about how they can start creating solutions. They are creating open source medical devices, filling potholes in city roads, creating clean street initiatives, or making alternative energy products to fix the intermittent power issues of Baghdad. These are people taking initiative. They are looking to take ownership of their cities and build the change they want to see – serving their communities on the most direct level. At this open space, you have finally found a home to put your talents and energy to work. You’ve found a group you can trust, they are courageous, curious, and want to help you create a better future. You feel happy, you feel capable, you've found your people.

We are eager to see the attitudes of hope and initiative proliferate through creativity, problem solving, and service. To make this happen, we are running a few concurrent and sequential events described below.

Our Strategy!

Event 1: Riwaya wa Bidaya – Stories and Beginnings (Story deadline Sept 22, 2012)

Riwaya wa Bidaya is a program to help us draw out stories of engagement and courage. We will use the TEDxBaghdad and GEMSI networks to gather stories and showcase the creative talent of community members as they come across challenges in their neighborhoods and cities. On Oct 5th, the top stories will be showcased to hackerspaces around the world during a GEMSI-hosted live-streamed discussion from Baghdad to the hackerspaces of the world. Through some clever timing, these stories will also be showcased at the Share Conference in Beirut. Riwaya wa Bidaya builds connections and provides a platform from which stories of initiative can grow. In addition, the best visual stories will be illustrated by a professional comic artist. These comics will then be transformed into a self-published book and proudly presented in both English and Arabic.

Event 2: ‘Amal wa Amal – Work and Hope (Oct 18-19th, 2012)

Collaborating with our storytellers from Riwaya wa Bidaya, we will run a two-day hackerspace just before TEDxBaghdad, which takes place October 20. Workshops will be conducted based primarily on the stories and projects proposed at Riwaya wa Bidaya. We will invite local artists to run workshops on their crafts as well as run skillshares that promote the idea that everyone has something valuable to share. The hackerspaces of Beirut and Cairo will assist in the organization and development of this event and will host their own workshops to share ideas and engage in the community. Our goal is to provide a space that bridges and bonds together the individuals and communities which are the heartbeat of the hackerspace movement that is growing in the Middle East.

Where your (tax deductible) donations will go:

All of our time is volunteered, but we're looking for your support to fund these events. Specifically, we need funds for:

  • The live streaming set up and crew
  • Printing the comics
  • Traveling to Iraq 
  • Bringing hackers from Beirut and Cairo to Iraq 
  • Insurance while in Iraq 
  • Materials and rental equipment for the 2 day hackerspace 
  • Video supplies and editing time to create video documentation to share what we're learning about hackerspace development in the Middle East with as many people in the Middle East and North Africa as possible
  • Promotional materials for the events
  • Artist and speaker honorariums

See you in Baghdad!

Don't be a stranger! Keep in touch:


All donations are tax deductible through our fiscal sponsor, the non-profit organization The School Factory.


Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $9 or more

    210 backers

    A GEMSI sticker and a digital copy of the comics we're creating.

    Supporting us at this level makes you our friend and grows the network of people who are interested in supporting collaborative community spaces around the world. Any involvement is helpful!

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $29 or more

    196 backers

    A GEMSI teeshirt to wear when you need an extra smile and all the rewards above.

    Supporting us at this level starts making it possible for us to rent equipment for the two day space, each shirt = one table or Arduino kit.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $75 or more

    69 backers Limited (130 left of 199)

    A self-published book of the comics we're collecting, backer recognition in a comic and everything above.

    Supporting us at this level makes your hair shinier. It also means that we can pay for our supplies like SD cards and external harddrives which we need to help document and share this movement.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $125 or more

    43 backers Limited (56 left of 99)

    A limited edition screen printed version of one of the comics from Riwaya wa Bidaya, signed from 1-99.

    Supporting us at this level makes you a superhero. With this we can buy materials for the workshops, travel around in Iraq and buy kidnapping insurance.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    3 backers Limited (7 left of 10)

    At this level the funder receives a prototype 3d printed open source heart rate monitor developed for the hackerspace workshops in Baghdad. Own a bit of this historic event and connect with this amazing product which brings with it the concept of open source entrepreneurship to Iraq. Order the first 3 if you want to own one that was made in Baghdad too!

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $888 or more

    1 backer Limited (7 left of 8)

    Original comic art will be created for a story you think is incredibly inspiring. Help us imagine and share to change the world. What idea do you want to share? Comics will be considered for the book. You will also get everything 75$ and below.

    At this level you become a visionary. With this support we can pay for the live stream set up and crew costs. The live stream will share the 10 comic stories we are collecting in Baghdad with Beirut through the Share Conference ( and with the world through the hackerspace network.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $1,222 or more

    1 backer Limited (4 left of 5)

    An “Iraq Would Be Better If...” canvas print modified by Iraqi artist Susu Attar. At 'Amal wa Amal, our two day hackerspace, we will facilitate the creation of a collage made by attendees who finish the sentence "Iraq would be better if...". We will scan this collage, have an archival canvas print made, then Susu ( will customize the print especially for you. You also get everything $75 dollars and below.

    At this funding level (and above) you become a super backer and are the lifeblood of our project. Superbackers get their name/company logo placed as sponsors of our project. As a sponsor we would love to have a skype call with you to discuss your involvement with GEMSI both short and long term.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $3,000 or more

    0 backers Limited (10 left of 10)

    This reward is especially for San Francisco Bay Area companies and organizations interested in experiencing the GEMSI vision and energy first hand. At this level, you get a presentation by a GEMSI member on the latest & greatest from our work in the Middle East and a 2-hr brain storming and creative problem solving workshop. We can't wait to meet you!

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $7,000 or more

    0 backers Limited (4 left of 4)

    A custom half-day program for your team or community group facilitated by members of the GEMSI team. Choose from a number of different workshop offerings: Collaborative open-source design, 3-D scanning and rapid prototyping, creative problem solving, and others. Experience for yourself what GEMSI is all about - we can't wait to meet you!
    (At this reward level we are able to offer workshops within North America. If you are outside that area and interested in a program with GEMSI, message us!)

    Estimated delivery:

Funding period

- (21 days)