Qatar’s first Model Organization of Islamic Cooperation was hosted by the state’s national university last month and drew over 500 students to discuss and debate two topical global issues – food security and the environmental crisis, and political changes in the Muslim world – and how they impact on Arabic and Muslim societies worldwide.
The conference, in which the students represented 28 Islamic countries around the world, was organized by Qatar University’s College of Sharia and Islamic Studies in collaboration with the Diplomatic Institute of the Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Its format was along the lines of the Model UN conferences in which students around the world simulate discussions and debates at UN general assemblies and committee sessions.
The objective of the conference was to provide a platform for the students to debate key political issues facing countries in the Arab and Muslim world and to discuss major challenges for the wider Middle East and North African region. It was aimed to draw them to a better appreciation of Islamic unity and mutual understanding, and to widen their knowledge of broader issues on religion, culture, and nationhood, as well as to promote the spirit of leadership and give them the opportunity to enhance their presentation, communication and debating skills.
Qatar University’s Dean of the College of Sharia and Islamic Studies, Dr Aisha Al-Mannai, said the conference was held to connect students to the recent issues that affected the Arab and Islamic countries at an economic social and political level, especially in light of the Arab Spring. “They gained practical and educational experience, and it helped them to better understand the recent and ongoing issues facing the Arab world,” she said.
Diplomatic Institute Director Ambassador Hassan Al-Mohannadi noted that the OIC had tried during the past four years to activate its role in supporting the efforts of the international society in maintaining stability in the region, and in trying to reduce the side effects of natural disasters, armed conflict and poverty. “It is our responsibility to broaden students’ awareness of such issues, especially on food security and changing politics that are particularly relevant today,” he said.
Commenting on the conference, engineering student Abdulla Izzat said: “This event greatly contributed to bringing a level of maturity to the students’ approach to the issues, encouraging critical thinking, and giving them practical experience in debate and exchange of opinions. It will help QU students to better interact with the society and enhance their understanding of contemporary Islamic issues. This conference also played a great role in strengthening their leadership skills and encouraging them to be effective members in Arab, Islamic and international societies”.
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