JeddiCon’s Yasser Bahjatt at Worldcon 76

The bid committee to bring the Worldcon to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2022 (JeddiCon) styles itself The Jeddi High Council.  The Master of The Order – bid chair — is Yasser Bahjatt. He’s been to Worldcons, and Olav Rokne forwarded several photos he took of Bahjatt on a panel at the San Jose Worldcon of 2018. (Thanks to Steven H Silver for the panelist identifications.)

This was the alternate history panel “If This, Then What?” The panelists in order from left to right: Kaja Foglio, Steven H Silver, Yasser Bahjatt, Kay Kenyon, Harry Turtledove. (Foglio only appears in the last picture.)

Left to right: Steven H Silver, Yasser Bahjatt, Kay Kenyon, Harry Turtledove. Photo by Olav Rokne.
Left to right: Steven H Silver, Yasser Bahjatt, Kay Kenyon, Harry Turtledove. Photo by Olav Rokne.
Left to right: Kaja Foglio, Steven H Silver, Yasser Bahjatt, Kay Kenyon, Harry Turtledove. Photo by Olav Rokne.

JeddiCon Bidders Discuss Their Experience

The JeddiCon bid committee wants to bring the Worldcon to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2022. When their bid went public in January, File 770 asked for more information about their conrunning experience. Here’s the background they shared.

(See all the official bid filing documents for the Jeddah and Chicago bids for 2022 at the CoNZealand website.)


Dear Mike,

Thank you for your interest in JeddiCon and its committee (The Jeddi High Council).

The Jeddi High Council members are all top professionals in their fields. Bellow you will find their summery bio that includes the event running experiences that they each have:

Master of The Order Yasser Bahjatt

Yasser has bachelor’s degree in Electronic Engineering specialized in Computer Engineering, he is also an alumni of Singularity University’s Graduate Study Program.

Yasser has been managing eSports events since 2003 with some events growing to several thousand players competing across 27 locations located around the kingdom. He was also the organized and co-organized several TEDx events in Jeddah.

He has been a driving force for cultivating and growing the SciFi culture in Saudi and across the Arabian world.

Lore Keeper Rami Hamzah

Rami Hamzah is a proactive knowledge seeker since he began to explore and make sense of written forms during his emerging literacy phase of his life. That’s when his journey began by a coincidence when he found the ancient “One Thousand and One Nights” book in his hand at the age of 7 years.

He was always fascinated by Fiction and historical novels.

Rami worked on managing logistical support of the opening and closing ceremony of Saudi Professional League 2015/2016. He had a multi-dimensional study/career path through the past 20 years in Information Technology, Logistics, Marketing, Sales and Customer Service.

Master Thamer Alturaif

Thamer M. Alturaif is a Chemical engineer from King Abdelaziz university with a master’s in business administration from university of Colorado. Throughout his career as an HR professional Thamer managed numerous events and activities scaling from small events like workshops/trainings/townhalls up to companywide initiatives like roadshows and annual seminars. Biggest project was overseeing the deployment and management of over 3000 temporary employees from different nationalities during Hajj operations in the 2019 season.

Master Mohammed Albakri

He studied medical technology and is currently working in Laboratory Information Sciences and is still waiting for the lab accident that will grant him superpowers…

He was part of the planning committee for the 2nd annual Laboratory week hosted by King Faisal Specialist Hospital Jeddah.

Master Ahmad Sabbagh

Ahmed has bachelor’s degree in Mechanical and Production Engineering, and he also has an MBA.

Ahmad was in charge of organizing Buyer & Seller Conference in Indonesia and Bangladesh. And was also managing logistics activities.

Master Tameem Qashqari

He is a member of Geekfest community and he has participated in organizing Geekfest Jeddah. He was responsible for developing the marketing pitch to corporations to secure sponsors for the event.

He hosted the Low Priority Queue podcast which is A geek-centric podcast of three fanboys with great intentions, but absurdly poor taste.

Residing for eternity where gamers go to die

Master Ashraf Fagih

He has a PhD in Computing from Queen’s University in Canada and served as an assistant Professor at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals.

Between 2015 and 2017, Ashraf served as Vice Rector for University Relations & Community Outreach at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. He was directly involved in the organization and crowd management of major university events including the graduation ceremony and all VIP reception affairs.

Since 2018, Ashraf has been appointed as the head of Communication-then Operations- of King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra); the flagship initiative of Saudi Aramco Company. Ashraf was directly involved in the programming, supervision and promotion of a wide set of cultural and scientific activities offered by Ithra, attended by more than 1.2 million visitors over the course of the past 18 months.

Master Raneen Bukhari

Raneen grew up in what she calls “a business/art environment”, Her mother is an artist and her father a businessman. She has worked on and led the planning and organization of many events over many different fields. In 2013, she was in charge of the launch campaign for NICE stores in AlKhobar. She is also the co-creator and curator of LOUD Art, a traveling platform for emerging experimental artists, organized annually from 2012 to 2016. Bukhari is a co-organizer of Huna Art, a casual art talk that has been happened bimonthly from 2013 to 2016. She has organized 28 art exhibitions in Saudi and around the world. Most recently, she just finished working on Desert X AlUla as logistics and shipping director.

If you have any more questions please do not hesitate to ask.

May the 4th we’ll be with you,

A Worldcon in Saudi Arabia?

CoNZealand has received and accepted two bids for the 2022 Worldcon — JeddiCon, a bid to hold the Worldcon in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and a bid for Chicago, Illinois, USA. 

Their bid materials will be posted on the CoNZealand website in the next week or so. Site Selection ballots and payment systems are expected to be available in April.

JEDDICON IN 2022. With a web domain — https://jeddicon.com/ — that was just created on January 6, and a bid Council that first came into effect on January 26, the bid for Jeddah has only had a public face for a few weeks.

However, they did file with CoNZealand by the January 31 deadline to be on the Site Selection ballot. (For the record, when File 770 inquired on January 25 neither 2022 bid had yet filed.)

The JeddiCon bid proposes to hold the 2022 Worldcon in Jeddah, the second-largest city in Saudi Arabia, at the King Faisal Conference Center.

The bid committee styles itself the Jeddi High Council, led by Master of the Order Yasser Bahjatt (Yoda), who was born in Michigan but has lived in Jeddah since he was 5. He is a computer engineer by profession, but also is the author of Yaqteenya: The Old World, “the first Arabian alternative history novel.”

The bid website adds:

Yasser has been actively building the SciFi culture in Arabia since 2012 when he announced the Initiative Yatakhayaloon that he co-founded with his parter Ibraheem Abbas to jump start the contrary SciFi culture in Arabia (TED Talk). Since then he has been attending the WorldCon to talk about Arabian SciFi and to promote it globally.

Other committee members are Grandmaster Khalid Alsameti (Kenobi), Lore Keeper Rami Hamzah (R2-D2), Ahmad Sabbagh (Ackbar), Dr. Ashraf Fagih (Anakin) a Saudi writer and novelist, Mohammed Albakri (Mace), Raneen Bukhari (Rey), Tamim Kashgari (Tarkin), and Thamer Alturaif (Vader).

File 770 sent an inquiry through the contact page on their website asking about their conrunning experience but has yet to receive a reply.

As is well known, visitors to Saudi Arabia are subject to various cultural and religious restrictions, which can be read about in the entry on the country’s “Local laws and customs” posted by the government of the United Kingdom. Some of these include —

…Local laws require men and women to dress modestly covering shoulders and knees in public, avoiding tight-fitting clothing or clothes with profane language or images. It is not mandatory for female travellers to wear the traditional robe or abaaya. Information on important laws and etiquette around dress codes is available to visitors on the Visit Saudi website.

…Homosexual or extra-marital sexual relations, including adultery, are illegal and can be subject to severe penalties. It’s also illegal to be transgender. Transgender people travelling to Saudi Arabia are likely to face significant difficulties and risks if this is discovered by the authorities. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

CHICAGO IN 2022. The Chicago bid has been wooing voters for a few years now. Their most recent Smofcon questionnaire, Chicago for Worldcon 80 in 2022, said, “We will likely be at the Hyatt Regency Chicago in downtown Chicago, the site of four prior Chicago Worldcons.”

Proposed Site: Chicago, IL
Proposed Dates: September 1-5, 2022
Bid Chairs: Helen Montgomery and Dave McCarty.
Website: Chicago in 2022 Worldcon Bid
Facebook: Chicago Worldcon

The bid chairs have extensive Worldcon running experience, as do the many committee members listed in the Smofcon questionnaire.