Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

24 Jan, 2013

Doha Conference Declaration Calls for Global Network for Dialogue and Debate


DOHA, Qatar – January 24, 2013 – (BUSINESS WIRE)–The 4th International Conference on Argumentation, Rhetoric, Debate and the Pedagogy of Empowerment, organized by Qatar Debate in cooperation with the Slovenian Institute for culture of dialogue, International Society for the Study of Argumentation-Netherlands, World Debate Institute, and the International Center for the Advancement of Political Communication and Argumentation-USA, concluded here with participation of more than 300 researchers and scholars representing 38 different countries, with large Arab presence from more than 14 Arab countries.

The conference, which was held for the first time in the Middle East, focused on the distinctive role that Qatar plays as a global bridge between civilizations and religions and an advocate of the culture of argumentation, tolerance and acceptance.

During the closing session, the conferees adopted the “Doha Declaration”, which is a set of recommendations that advocates creating awareness of debate culture globally. Some of the major recommendations include:

  • Invest human heritage in the fields of debate and dialogue and globalize the principle of “dialogue as a thought and practice.”
  • Rationalize the theoretical efforts and invest these efforts in practical programs that build dialogue and communication bridges between nations and countries, irrespective of their language, religion, culture, or civilization.
  • Use and adopt dialogue as a means of affirming the right to be different while recognizing the need to manage difference in a peaceful and civil manner and to create the necessary space for free discussion and exchange of ideas.
  • Build a network of international institutions that promote dialogue and debate, utilizing the media and communication technologies to achieve this goal.
  • Integrate debate and dialogue into the educational, cultural and media curricula as these are the incubators through which people are taught the values and skills of dialogue; and establish relevant centers to achieve this goal.
  • Establish partnerships with civil society and public organizations that work in the area of dialogue and debate, and support their efforts in the field of upbringing and training young people in the values of debate and dialogue and their ethics and manners.
  • Make the International Conference on Argumentation, Rhetoric, Debate, and the Pedagogy of Empowerment a periodic gathering event that underscores the values and culture of dialogue in different counties across the globe.
  • Heighten the value of an Olympiad on dialogue and debate, so that it becomes a widely recognized international tradition.
  • Develop studies and research on the culture of debate and dialogue.
  • Reinforce dialogue between different intellectual and cultural schools through specialized academic seminars and forums, and that encourage young people to enhance and develop their dialogue and debate skills.

Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, attended the inaugural session and made a keynote address, calling for a culture of dialogue and support to help young people become future leaders.

After the inauguration, Sheikha Moza participated in the first panel discussion on “Engaging Youth in Constructive Dialogue to Promote Peace, Understanding and Mutual Respect”, moderated by Jassim Al Azzawi, Al Jazeera English with Professor Ibrahim Al Naimi, The Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue, Dr Aisha Al Mannai, Qatar University, Professor Alfred C Snider, University of Vermont, Dr David Cratis Williams, Florida Atlantic University, and Dana Al Ansari, Carnegie Mellon University, as panelists. She emphasized the importance of promoting dialogue through education and within the family.

Over three days 120 research papers were presented, discussing topics on argumentation, rhetoric and debate. The conference had Arabic, along with English, as the language of debate for the first time.

On the sidelines of the conference Qatar Debate Center launched a specialized dictionary on “Debating Terms” in both Arabic and English, during a special ceremony attended by Dr. Mohammad Fathi Saud, President of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development. This dictionary is the first Arabic dictionary of its kind, and it is the first step in fulfilling the center’s role as a community of advocates for the leaders of tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Dr Hayat Maraffi, executive director, Qatar Debate Centre, said that she was proud of the Arab participation in the conference, and hoped that it will be a kick-start for a larger Arab presence in the global debating arena in the future.