Sharing the Power of Debate

Fostering a culture of debate has always been at the forefront of developing a knowledge economy for any nation. Through the skill of debate, individuals nurture their critical thinking skills, learn to communicate effectively, and begin to unlock leadership qualities that may have previously laid dormant.
مركز مناظرات قطر
Over a two-month period, a photo exhibition within the Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU) Student Center spurred fascination from attendees: as it celebrated five years since the establishment of the QatarDebate center, a member of Qatar Foundation that is also the National Debating Organization for Qatar. This civic engagement initiative intends to develop and support the standard of open discussion and debate among students and young people in Qatar and the wider Arab world.

According to Dr Hayat Maarafi, Executive Director, QatarDebate, the photo exhibition marks the fulfillment of five years that have been momentous for the organization. In five years the center has delivered a wide range of high quality debate learning programs in Arabic and English, seeking to promote the culture and use of debate, open dialogue, and discussion as effective academic and personal development skills among secondary and university students.

“I see our journey as a marathon that included many stops, and each has its own story,” Dr Maarafi told The Foundation.

“The center has made an enormous effort to revive Arabic, a language that carries the history of the nation. We organize debates in Arabic and English, but the ones in Arabic have more weight and recognition on an international level.

“Our second stop along this journey was launching the first International Universities Arabic Debating Championship; then launching the first International Schools Arabic Debating Championship. Lastly, our third stop was a quality shift that took place when we published A Guide to the Art of Debating, the Dictionary of Debating Terms, and the Introduction to the Art of Debating. As the Arab library lacks these sources, we see our publications as a source to quench the thirst of debaters.”
QatarDebate was originally founded in order to focus on developing and encouraging debate and dialogue skills through collaborating with educational and public institutions, and supporting the formation of debate clubs in the Arab world. The aim is to shape the global citizens of today and the intellectual leaders of tomorrow in Qatar and the region, through the delivery of diverse debate learning programs featuring Arabic and English, in Qatar and the region. On the benefit of teaching debate to students, Dr Maarafi is succinct: “Debate is part of everyday life; it is the window that enriches students’ ideas and provides them with ample space to voice their opinions, thus preparing them for the world of leadership.”

QatarDebate on Display
With this benefit in mind, placing the fifth anniversary photo exhibition within the HBKU Student Center was the perfect mix of location and message. The idea behind the exhibition was to allow people to get to know the center, its events and its activities. Not many may know that the center has trained more than 18.000 people, who have used the center as a launching pad for spreading the art of debating among people from all walks of life. However, hosting the exhibition in the HBKU Student Center ensures that this message is seen in an area always frequented by Education City’s students and staff.
The exhibition itself features pictures and documentaries about QatarDebate since its inception. The first documentary that screens at the exhibition is devoted to highlighting the center’s achievements and milestones over the past five years, while the second documentary was filmed with the assistance of Al Rayyan TV and Qatar TV and is intended to showcase the participation of Qatari students in the center’s activities and to highlight local and international events organized by QatarDebate. “These documentaries were chosen based on a study on what attracts enthusiasts of debating and those who want to learn more about the center,” said Dr Maarafi.

Asked for her vision for the next five years of QatarDebate, Dr Maarafi spoke of the next stages for the historic and highly ambitious journey that the center has taken to cement its legacy within Qatar and beyond.
“After the progress we have witnessed, we hope to further expand the work of the center and introduce more constructive programs that will serve society and further enhance the use of the Arabic language,” she stated.

“We hope that our publications will also fill the gap in Arabic libraries for such titles and provide debating enthusiasts with valuable information. And finally, we seek to draw up future plans for the center based on measurable procedures, allowing us to further increase the scope and number of QatarDebate events and activities.”