Doha, May 29 (QNA) - The activities of the first International Conference on Debate and Dialogue and the associated exhibition, organized by the QatarDebate Center, kicked off Monday, in the presence of HE Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al-Thani, and a number of Their Excellencies sheikhs and ministers.
The two-day conference at the Qatar National Convention Center aims to be an open platform for discussing academic issues specialized in the global debate community of researchers, interested people and academics, and exchanging training and educational experiences in a way that contributes to the development of knowledge production in the fields of debate, dialogue and interrelated disciplines.
The opening session of the conference included a speech by HE Minister of State for International Cooperation Lolwah bint Rashid Al Khater, and another by Executive Director of QatarDebate Center Dr. Hayat Abdullah Maarafi. It also included a panel discussion on the role and impact of debate institutions around the world, which brought together a number of speakers.
In her speech, Maarafi confirmed that the center has become one of the most important institutions concerned with debate and dialogue in the whole world, and its experience has become the focus of attention and sets the standards for the radical creation of organizations and entities in the world of debate. She added that the Center spreads the message of enriching dialogue and empowering minds by organizing and hosting the largest international and continental championships in school and university debates in both Arabic and English.
She added that the Center is determined to continue its competitive debate programs and allow society to obtain the greatest possible benefit following the great success achieved in the field of competitive debates and the expansion of the beneficiaries of its educational programs and activities to include more than 500 universities and schools in 80 countries and thousands of participants.
She highlighted the partnerships the Center established with universities inside and outside the country to offer university courses on debate and critical thinking, including a debate course for students of the Police College in Qatar, and cooperation with prestigious American institutions to offer courses that employ debate to teach Arabic to non-native speakers.
The efforts culminated in a qualitative partnership with Tunisia's University Ez-Zitouna to design and launch a masters program, the first of its kind, she said.
Maarafi expressed her happiness at launching the first edition of the conference to be a forum for researchers, academics, trainers and debaters, and the nucleus of an academic network that studies the past and present of dialogue experiences.
She highlighted the QF's great support aimed at empowering generations, discovering talents and capabilities and employing them to bring about the positive change needed by the state and its institutions, noting that the Center has worked to build an Arab model for debate and dialogue that is open to different cultures.
In her speech, Al Khater drew attention to the arts of debate in poetry and literature and between Muslim scholars and Orientalists, and how these debates were like "intellectual wars" that enriched cultural life, deepened awareness of various issues and contributed to the development of skills, arts, sciences and language.
Her Excellency noted the role of the QatarDebate Center in reviving the culture of debate, extending platforms and expanding partnerships, while highlighting its role in disseminating the culture of debate in the Arabic language in various countries of the world, spreading the Arabic language among non-native speakers, and raising the level of language and logical arguments among Arabs and others from other nations, as well as its role in establishing academic programs in many countries.
HE the Minister of State for International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hoped that this conference will bear fruit and achieve its goal of being a comprehensive platform for researchers and those interested in the sciences and arts of debating.
Speakers in the panel discussion entitled "Debate institutions around the world: role and impact" stressed the importance of the art of debates in confronting argument with another, critical thinking, discussing current topics and issues, and analyzing and understanding the evidence.
They praised the QatarDebate Center for the establishment of their centers and benefiting from it in adapting their activities according to the requirements and conditions of their communities.
They noted the role of the QatarDebate Center in spreading the culture of diversity, difference, argumentative debate and constructive dialogue, and how it contributed to helping them transfer dialogue and debate from elite society to the general public, building peace and creating an environment conducive to debates, which enhanced critical dialogue and community participation and made the intellectual environment more sustainable and developed.
The speakers reviewed their experiences in establishing debate centers in their countries as well as the factors for their continuity despite the multiplicity of races, cultures, religions and languages in their countries, noting awards they obtained locally, regionally and internationally and their ability to include the art of debate in educational curricula in schools and universities and to widely spread this culture in cooperation with educational, social and governmental institutions, a matter which made debate a way of life, not only between people, but also between institutions and their employees, attributing that to QatarDebate and its role in supporting their centers and activities.