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31 October 2019

Harvard University wins QatarDebate championship in US

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Qatar Foundation crosses continents to spread the Arabic language through the power of debate.

On its own home ground, Harvard University has won the first US Universities Arabic Debating Championship 2019, organized by Qatar Foundation member QatarDebate.

Hosted at Harvard University from October 25 - 27 October, the championship saw Chicago University claim second place, as they and Harvard competed head-to-head for the title.

The US Debating Championship marks a new beginning for spreading the Arabic language as a global language of communication.

Dr. Hayat Abdullah Marafi

The event saw 23 teams from different universities take part in the championship. The Best Speaker for Non-Native Arabic Speakers award was presented to Dan Harker from Brigham Young University, while the Best Speaker for Native Arabic Speakers was presented to Omar Mohammed Batisha from the University of Chicago.

“The US Debating Championship marks a new beginning for spreading the Arabic language as a global language of communication,” said Dr. Hayat Abdullah Marafi, Executive Director of QatarDebate.

“Indeed, QatarDebate has taken on this mission by investing in the youth, as they are the driving force that helps us achieve our goals.”

The US Universities Arabic Debating Championship took place over three days at Harvard University.

The championship has helped to promote the Arabic language and culture through debating.

According to Dr. Marafi, through this championship QatarDebate has reached a new milestone, by crossing continents to spread the Arabic language through debate.

The championship’s judges also praised the students’ level of performance, with Dr. Ahmed Abdullah Ferhadi, Clinical Professor of Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies at New York University, saying: “As one of the judges, I think this experience was very successful and motivating, and I had the chance to learn about how proficient US university students are in using the Arabic language.”

In the US, people are often unfamiliar with the Arab world, so learning Arabic through debate is an effective way to introduce Arab culture.

Dr. Ahmed Abdullah Ferhadi

Emphasizing the importance of this championship in recognizing Arab culture, Dr. Ferhadi said: "In the US, people are often unfamiliar with the Arab world, so learning Arabic through debate is an effective way to introduce Arab culture, while moving away from what is published in social media and other news outlets."

Moataz Al-Abed, from the International School of Chicago, attended the US Debate Capacity Building Program, a program organized by QatarDebate coaches. “I am proud to be chosen as one of the judges for this debating championship, which has witnessed strong competition between the debaters,” he said.

"From the moment we arrived in Boston until the last debating session, we have seen tremendous efforts from the organizers.”

23 teams took part in the championship, won by Harvard University, with Chicago University placed second.

Speaking at the championship’s closing ceremony, Abdulrahman Al Subaie, Head of Programs, Communications and Marketing at QatarDebate, said: “Today, we conclude this championship and head towards a new era that brings along new projects and initiatives, which would encourage academics and students to use debate as a learning tool for practicing and mastering the Arabic language.”

“Through the eagerness of the debaters and the proficiency of the international judges, we are marking an achievement that will stay in our memories forever, and will be written in the history of QatarDebate, as we outline the features of Arab debates together.”

Turning to the participants, he encouraged them: “Always strive to reach the top. We hope you benefit from this experience to be able to renew and develop programs and projects to spread the Arabic language through debates.

“From this moment onward, you are our ambassadors of this culture, and we promise to provide all the support needed to make your projects successful.”

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