At the Asian Arabic Debating Championship in Kuala Lumpur, Syed Saddiq Bin Al-Sayed Abdel Rahman, Malaysia’s former Minister of Youth and Sports, spoke about how Qatar Foundation is amplifying the positive impact of debating and dialogue.
It is a true honor to be with QatarDebate for the inaugural Asian Arabic Debating Championship and thank you for inviting me to be part of this momentous occasion. It is one of the most diverse debate tournaments in Asia, with 30 teams participating from 20 countries.
Attending the debates makes me nostalgic of my own debating days in school and university. English was not my first language, and I worked hard to improve my proficiency. It is very challenging to learn a new language, let alone debate in it. I truly praise and commend our debaters.
This tournament has brought together teams from all over the world, from Korea to Kyrgyzstan, Iraq to Indonesia, Palestine to Vietnam. An assembly of the brightest thinkers engaging in a battle of minds, some of whom do not speak Arabic as a native language.
I am always happy to encourage the adoption of debate skills, which had a huge impact on me growing up.
I am always happy to encourage the adoption of debate skills, which had a huge impact on me growing up. Before I joined the debating world, I was very uninformed. I had to work twice as hard compared to my peers as they had less of a language barrier and had more experience than me.
Debating encourages critical thinking, builds curiosity of the world around you, and makes you well-informed of current global issues.
Joining the debates was the best decision I ever made. Debating encourages critical thinking, builds curiosity of the world around you, and makes you well-informed of current global issues. It teaches you about the art of negotiation, how to be persuasive and understand the opposing side. Debating encourages compassion and empathy. It teaches you to never fear failure – because losing one round does not mean you cannot win the next.
Debating to me is something I use every day, it makes me think more critically, read more, and makes me a better person – everything I do in my life has been positively impacted by my debating experience.
Debating is competitive by nature, meaning the debaters will start reading a lot more to have better knowledge, and learn to master speaking well, and in the end all of this will become a daily habit. When you start debating, it becomes a lifestyle – something which you bring wherever you go.
For a long time, I felt that debating should be an inclusive activity that was open to all, and discussion of ideas and theories cannot be homogenized to one language like English.
For a long time, I felt that debating should be an inclusive activity that was open to all, and discussion of ideas and theories cannot be homogenized to one language like English. Knowledge is power and should not be confined to selected languages only. Arabic is one of the oldest languages and is the 5th most spoken language in the world, with over 400 million speakers. Debate and discourse were already common practice in Arabic from the early days and is even more vital today.
In the words of a great Islamic debater, Ibn Rush: “Ignorance leads to fear, fear leads to hate, and hate leads to violence”. In this day and age of misinformation, ignorance, and a lack of understanding, critical thinking, and constructive dialogue have become one of our biggest challenges, leading to division and the spread of hate.
As brothers and sisters on this earth, we need to focus on building bridges instead of walls. And events like this is a step in the right direction.
I have had the honor to be a judge in other international debating championships in the past and the quality of the debates are very good, and the panel of judges was of a very high caliber. Qatar hosts the best judges and coaches from around the world to attend the championships and host workshops before and after the tournament. I have also had the opportunity to attend some tournaments and workshops hosted by QatarDebate and was very impressed.
While I was in Qatar, I participated in and facilitated in several Qatar Debate programs, such as the Intensive training week with the Qatar national team in preparation for the World Schools Debating Championship. and I facilitated over 25 training sessions at preparatory and secondary schools all over Qatar.
Qatar will always have a special place in my heart, and each time I visit, I am met with nothing but warmth and hospitality. I would like to take this opportunity to thank QatarDebate and Qatar Foundation for all the amazing work they do. They truly have enriched dialogue and empowered minds.
I hearty congratulate everyone for participating in this tournament, and tell them: you may not realize it, but your presence here alone has added tremendous value to your own experience, education, and life.