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Ailyn Agonia
Qatar Foundation (QF) is bringing back Doha Debates, Qatar’s forum for free speech, with innovative new concept.
QF Vice-Chairperson and CEO HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al Thani launched the new Doha Debates in the presence of members of QF’s leadership, students and educators from across the country at the Qatar National Library on Thursday.
Speaking at the launch event, HE Sheikha Hind said such platform for dialogue, exploration of view points and rigorous exchange of thoughts is needed more today.
She said, “In a time when sound bites and fake news risk drowning out analysis and discourse, and crucial issues are often viewed through a narrow lens, the importance of enabling and promoting 360-degree thinking is clear.
“Doha Debates allows such thinking to thrive. Its new concept continues the proud Doha Debates tradition, stretching back to its inception 14 years ago, when it was the only platform of its kind for Arab youth to speak out about the world’s most pressing matters and share their perspectives. But it also represents the evolution of this platform and what we stand for as a culture, as a nation, and as Qatar Foundation.”
Sheikha Hind added, “The majlis format of Doha Debates promotes conversation rather than competition. It is an equitable setting, not an adversarial one, where every voice is heard and where issues are addressed and problems solved together. It is a platform rooted in our traditions and wholly relevant to today. It is a reflection of values that are at the core of QF and are woven into the fabric of Education City: a place where respectful dialogue, open-mindedness and freedom of expression are encouraged.”
Doha Debates Managing Director Amjad Atallah said the new Doha Debates, with the motto ‘Don’t settle for a divided world’, will debate more on the solutions rather than the problems and would explore individual responsibilities and not just theoretical discussions on what governments should do relative to world’s most challenging problems.
“Our vision is to unite and inspire a generation to solve the worlds challenges and build a better future generation to come. Our mission is to seek new and collaborative solutions to global challenges to debate and inspire individual action. Our values are inspired as well by our mission and our vision: respect for others, optimism, curiosity, diversity, realism, moral courage and dignity,” he said.
With the majlis format of the new Doha Debates, speakers will literally sit side-by-side and the audience is more integrated to the entire set-up.
Doha Debates will reach out to a wider audience through live debates which will also be streamed live, videos, blogs and podcasts.
The live shows will be moderated by Ghida Fakhry, an award-winning multilingual journalist and TV host.
“Doha Debates will galvanise people with diverse perspectives to take action for real solutions. We must change the way we address the world’s most pressing challenges. The timing couldn’t be more important with the current state of discourse and the widening polarisation all around us,” the journalist said.
Doha Debates also announced partnership with global non-profit community of innovators TED, Shared_Studios and Fortify Rights, a non-profit human rights organisation based in Southeast Asia.
Doha Debates’ Season 1 will tackle global refugee crisis, artificial intelligence, loss of faith and capitalism. Northwestern University in Qatar will host the Doha shows of Doha Debates.
At the TED Summit in Edinburgh, Doha Debates will tackle the issue of global citizenship. Discussions on water shortage and gender inequality will be set in South Africa and in India, respectively.
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