Posted on March 16, 2019

Under the patronage of Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF); the 5th International Universities Debating Championship commenced on Saturday March 16.

Extensive preparations that started well in advance have led to the championship that is hosting fifty-one countries including Arabic and non-Arabic speaking countries. This year’s edition is unique because of its broad international participation. Six teams represent Qatar; a Police Academy team, two teams’ boys and girls from Qatar University, two teams’ boys and girls from the Community College Qatar, and a team from Carnegie Mellon University-Qatar.

While speaking at the opening ceremony of the championship, Dr. Hayat Maarafi – Executive Director, QatarDebate, welcomed the delegates and said: "Today, under the patronage of Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), we are launching the 5th International Universities Debating Championship, which is featuring 107 teams representing 51 countries." After mentioning the various benefits of debating such as learning critical thinking and well-reasoned communication, she further said that "The championship is an opportunity to learn and practice the Arabic language, which is fast becoming a language of research, literature and creativity.

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Press Conference

On the sidelines of the championship, a press conference was held with the six aforementioned participating teams from Qatar. They shared how they did rigorous practice before the tournament, but it is paying out well. They said that they are not only debating but experiencing different cultures while interacting with teams from different countries, honing their public speaking skills, and becoming more tolerant to opposing ideas. They also said that debating helped them academically and in their personal lives as they became more emotionally mature. It is pertinent to mention that as a historic first, an Education City university, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, is also participating at the championship. Debaters from CMU-Q were excited and hoped that their participation would encourage other universities in EC to participate in Arabic championships in future.

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It is worth mentioning that Dr Hafsat Abiola, President of Women African Initiative and a Nigerian civil rights activist, who is visiting Qatar for Empower Conference hosted by Education Above All, visited the championship.  She gave an inspirational speech highlighting the challenges she and her family had to face during their political struggles trying to improve the lives of fellow Nigerians. She stressed the important role women must play by actively participating in all walks of life to uplift the country out of poverty. Dr. Hafsat considers the fight against corruption as a top priority for governments to give better lives to their citizens.

The Championship reflects the message of Qatar Foundation, aimed to unlock human potential by encouraging a culture of constructive dialogue, so as to support the concept of global citizenship, and the leaders of tomorrow.