Posted on February 27, 2019

Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation (QF), attended the debut live event of the relaunched Doha Debates, which saw a diverse range of participants from Qatar and abroad share and debate suggestions for alleviating the world’s urgent and worsening refugee crisis.

Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation, also attended the event at QF partner university Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q), where debate participants included a young Syrian refugee and education activist, and award-winning U.S. and British journalists and commentators. They were joined by an Iranian-born conflict mediator, a Lebanese debate moderator, and an Afghan refugee as the debate’s digital host, with audience contributions from QF students and Twitter livestream participants around the world.

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Through the innovative new format for Doha Debates – a QF production – debate moderator Ghida Fakhry challenged participants to focus on solutions to the refugee crisis, while the debate’s digital host, Nelufar Hedayat, highlighted ideas from the international audience participating via Twitter. The Doha-based audience then voted on the most effective solution to the global refugee crisis, choosing “Resist power. Push back” as proposed by debate participant Marc Lamont Hill.

Debate speaker Muzoon Almellehan, a 20-year-old Syrian refugee and education proponent, spoke of the importance of education in giving refugees hope. “Many of us think of refugees as numbers, but behind every number, there is a story,” she said. “Why judge people at a time when they need hope, believe in a better life, and want to build a future for themselves and their children?” British author and political commentator Douglas Murray highlighted “competing virtues” in the context of migration. “The first virtue is mercy, the desire to be merciful to fellow humans who are suffering,” he said. “And the second is justice — not just for those who are fleeing countries, but for those in the countries they are fleeing to.”

U.S. professor, activist and journalist Marc Lamont Hill said, “We can acknowledge the moment and that we have borders — we can’t pretend we don’t. But we also can’t obsess about this. We can reimagine ourselves as a global community rather than a local community.” Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, the debate’s bridge-building “connector”, and the founder and executive director of the International Civil Society Action Network, said, “The refugee crisis is not an easy issue, but it is necessary to discuss it because the problem is urgent. Every day children are out of school is a day their lives are put on hold, and a day they are not fulfilling their potential.”

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Amjad Atallah, Managing Director of Doha Debates, applauded the response and the caliber of contributions to the first live event, saying, “The tone and quality of the Doha Debates conversation sets a new high bar for discourse on complex and difficult issues. “Tonight, our guests and participants in Doha and online were able to experience being part of both a timely discussion and solutions to the global refugee crisis.” The full debate, and highlights of the event, can be viewed on Doha Debates’ website and social media channels, with the conversation continuing online using the hashtag #DearWorld.

Doha Debates’ new concept builds on the tradition of examining complex global issues established by its original launch 14 years ago, through live debates, digital videos, a TV series, and blogs and podcasts on the world’s most pressing challenges. This innovative approach includes majlis-style discussions designed to bridge differences, build consensus and identify solutions to urgent global issues.

The next live Doha Debates event is set to take place on April 3 at NU-Q, with a debate on the merits and challenges of Artificial Intelligence.

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