The opening ceremony of the 22nd World Schools Debate Championship took place on Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Doha. The Championship, held for the first time in an Arab country, is organized by QatarDebate Center and will include the participation of the national debating teams of 57 countries from around the world, who will debate amongst each other for the Championship Cup.
The opening ceremony was attended by HE Saad Bin Ibrahim Al Mahmoud, Minister of Education and Higher Education, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Education Council, Ambassadors of the participating states, high-ranking officials, as well as delegations of the various countries participating in the Championship. The Championship concludes on February 18, 2010.
The opening ceremony reflected the heritage and culture of Qatar and included folk songs and dances performed by Qatari children, which provided a snapshot of the important achievements of the leaders of Qatar in the past and the present.
His Excellency the Minister of Education and Higher Education stressed the importance of hosting this Championship in the State of Qatar, noting that it presents a great opportunity to promote and support the culture of debate in the Arab world.
He also expressed his hope that this Championship would help facilitate more unity between the peoples of the world, stemming from the belief that dialogue, discussion, and debate amongst people is of great importance. Spreading the culture of debate and dialogue among future generations, he said, will prepare them to be leaders of tomorrow.
In the speech delivered on the occasion, His Excellency said the WSDC debaters will practice and embody the concepts of respect of the other and interacting with the other in spite of differences in opinion and vision, and added that such debates will help instill in them a culture of dialogue and respect for others.
"The belief of the wise leadership of Qatar in the importance of human development as the most precious of resources constantly drives us to present everything that would endorse education and knowledge and to work on unlocking creative talents by promoting skills and interactions with different views and opinions," His Excellency said.
QatarDebate Center, he said, was established for the purpose of developing the abilities of students to absorb the concepts and principles of dialogue, and to instill these concepts in them since childhood and enhance their skills in this area.
His Excellency stated that hosting the WSDC in Qatar is but a continuation of the State's mission to foster a generation of conscious leaders, and also forms part of its efforts to revive and support the culture of dialogue and debate in the Arab world.
He said, "Our debaters today make up the true core of a free society; a society characterized by justice, equity, values and the spirit of innovation. We hope that they will be the best advocates for peace in a world plagued by wars and conflicts."
Dr. Hayat Maarafi, Executive Director of QatarDebate Center, said in her address that hosting the 2010 World Schools Debate Championship in Doha fulfills the vision of QatarDebate Center, which is “Debaters Today, Leaders Tomorrow”. She said the 2010 Championship holds great significance for the region as it is the first international championship of its kind to be held in the Arab world.
She added that organizing this Championship has achieved another important objective of the Center in the context of spreading the culture of debate, which is the way towards promoting a culture of dialogue and respect for others in spite of differences. She also stressed that the dissemination of the debating culture has become imperative in the light of the many internal and external problems that countries are facing today because they have shunned the culture of dialogue based on the respect of the other and his/her opinions.
Dr. Maarafi said the holding of this Championship in Doha is considered a milestone in the revival of the debate legacy in the Arab culture, which was characterized during centuries of Arab and Islamic civilization by the arts of speech and persuasion. These skills, she added, only flourish in a civil and cultural environment that is open to different thoughts, opinions and cultures.
She further noted that today Doha is reviving the glory of the Arab world with this huge audience that represents different races, religions and cultures - all gathered to compete for the trophy that will be given to the team with the strongest ideas and arguments and the most convincing evidence.
Dr. Maarafi said the 2010 WSDC reinforces Doha’s status as the capital of Arab culture, adding that this confirms Qatar’s leading role in the modern renaissance taking place in the world, and which is represented in cultural and civilizational exchange. Equally, she said, this shows Qatar’s commitment to spreading this culture and reviving it in the Arab world, so that it can regain its role as the beacon of intellectual freedom and cultural renaissance.
Dr. Maarafi observed that by organizing this Championship, Qatar is consolidating the principle of cultural exchange between world countries and at the same time giving the youth of the world an opportunity to discuss current issues in an open atmosphere and with an open mind. This Championship also enables the Qatari people to acquaint the world with their culture and traditions, and their contemporary renaissance led by His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar. Dr. Maarafi said the organization of such a Championship would help in paving the way for the establishment of the Arab Debate Championship in the Arabic language, which will be a pioneering educational project unprecedented in the Arab world.
The 2010 Championship is noteworthy for the presence of the Palestinian debate team, which is participating for the first time in the WSDC after QatarDebate Center undertook all the expenses of their participation.
Among the 57 countries participating in 2010 WSDC are the State of Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, America, England, China, Japan, Russia, India, Indonesia and the Netherlands, Mexico, Greece, Germany, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Romania, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Mongolia and Nigeria.
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