QatarDebate in partnership with British Council celebrating Britain and Qatar together
A public debate between champion university debaters from the UK and Qatar.
QatarDebate – member of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development – partnered with the British Council to organize a public debate as part of the British Festival 2015., The debate was held at Georgetown University and included the leading UK agency ‘Debate Mate’. Debate Mate, an innovative global social business that employs elite debate mentors to teach the skills of debating. Debate Mate invited 4 champion debaters from the UK to join 4 champion debaters from Qatar, selected by QatarDebate. The two teams debated on the motion: ‘This House would give parents access to their children’s social media accounts’. The debate questioned to what extent parents should monitor their children’s private online communications, and whether monitoring is a desirable or feasible option. A recent poll found that 94% of teenagers have social media accounts. As such, an increasing proportion of the lives of young people are spent interacting with friends and strangers online. Whilst online activity has clear benefits on the personal, social, and intellectual development of children, there are also well known dangers.
This debate analysed the issue both from the perspective of the parent and the child, and invited the audience - which was made up of children, parents and students- to participate during question time.
The debate between the young, talented Qatari and UK debaters was of high quality, despite the fact that speakers only found out which side they were on forty minutes prior to the debate!
Michael Dunn, from Cambridge University recognized as the ‘second best debater in the world” was part of the opposition and declared "Life is full of risk but that risk is only yours when you can learn to manage that risk for yourself".
On the proposition’s side, Fahad Al Khater, a student at Georgetown, stated that the internet is an unregulated space and as suchparents have a responsibility to watch over their children as they would in the real world.
When the debate opened to the audience for their views,many people, including young students were quick to raise their opposition to the motion. The debate concluded with Chris McGeever, an accomplished barrister, stating "A minority of parents will temporarily check on their children. It will not become a Big Brother state". By the end of the debate the opposition team won the debate.
After the debate, there was a panel discussion chaired by Martin Hope, Director of British Council Qatar on the value of debate and included representatives from all partner organizations including Dr. Abdellatif Sellami, Researcher at Qatar University andTariq Al Hammadi, High School student and Member of Qatar's National Debate Team 2015 represented QatarDebate. Gerd Nonneman, theDean ofGeorgetown University and Rob Sherwin, Deputy Country Chairman, Qatar Shell also took part. The panel included discussion questions such as: What are the benefits of debating, what kinds of jobs do people who are good at debating go on to do, and what is the best way to spread debating in Qatar and the MENA region.
Some of the main ideas that emerged from the debate were that debate has an interesting effect on identity, often leading people to reassess their beliefs and values and consequently change their personalities.
Debate also leads to resilience: it teaches young people how to accept and listen to criticismand when properly taught and practiced, can be transformational. "Whether you are a diplomat or not, to imagine yourself in someone else's mind is part of being a global citizen."
the closing remarks of the Dean of Georgetown Qatar "We should debate across cultures and languages" were an invitation to audience members to debate with each other and to encourage debate in their personal and professional lives
Muhammad Abdur Rehman, Acting Head of English Program, QatarDebate noted that British Festival Debate exemplified the high standard of work that can be produced through partnerships between QatarDebate, the British Council, Debate Mate (UK) and Georgetown University Qatar. This event truly reflected the vision of QatarDebate; it brought together debaters from across cultures and continents thereby shaping the global citizens of today, who will be intellectual leaders of tomorrow.
Alex de Jager, English Debate Coach, QatarDebate stated: “It was an incredible experience getting to work with these amazing debaters from both the UK and Qatar. This public debate was a wonderful opportunity to engage the community and showcase the value of debate. I think that the diversity of the audience and their eager participation is a testament to how important events like these are. As always, it was a privilege for me as a part of QatarDebate to be involved with this event.”
Martin Hope, Director British Council Qatar said “We’ve brought together world class debaters from the UK, Qatar and the rest of the world to discuss an important topical issue in front of an audience of all ages and cultures. This event showed that everybody can become a debater, and that debating is a crucial skill. We learnt during the panel - which included representatives from business and academia - that debate is a skill employers value. If you do debating, you will improve at school and develop fundamental skills for your future career.”