Doha Debates, an initiative of Qatar Foundation (QF), was relaunched on Thursday with an innovative new idea of 'debating solutions instead of debating problems' and with the concept ‘Don’t settle for a divided world’.
The inaugural session of the new version of Doha Debates that seeks to bring powerful new voices and viewpoints to global topics and themes was attended by HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani, vice chairperson and CEO of QF.
Produced under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, chairperson of QF, Doha Debates is returning with a fresh goal six years after the original debates last aired, to seek exciting new solutions to global challenges through honest, lively debates.
“At a time when soundbites 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,” Sheikha Hind said at the launch event.
“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,” she said.
Season 1 of Doha Debates will include digital conversations and live debates held at Northwestern University in Qatar and at several international cities. The live events will be moderated by Ghida Fakhry, an award-winning multilingual journalist and TV host, in front of university students and livestreamed across digital channels.
It will discuss and seek solutions for some of the world’s most pressing challenges such as the global refugee crisis, water shortage, loss of faith in institutions, gender inequality, capitalism, global citizenship and artificial intelligence.
“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 today. And 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,” Sheikha Hind said.
“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. And the timing couldn’t be more important with the current state of discourse and the widening polarisation all around us,” Fakhry said.
She said “Doha Debates will give us an opportunity to engage each other on some of the most vital and urgent issues we face. Our deep respect for difference, including difference of opinion, will guide our debates. Our aim is to inspire action. We can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines. We must engage, we must listen, we must act.”
Doha Debates has also partnered with with TED, Shared_Studios and Fortify Rights. While TED is a global nonprofit community of innovators who believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes and lives, Shared_Studios is known for its iconic walk-in portals of communication - a network of gold-coloured shipping containers outfitted with video-conference equipment for people to step inside and speak across the world. Fortify Rights works to prevent and remedy human rights violations and investigate and document abuses, provide customised technical support to human rights defenders and press for solutions.
“Doha Debates was never just a talk show. It’s a showcase for all the passions and dramatic confrontations of the Middle East and the world. Instead of just debating problems, Doha Debates will engage millions of young people to find individual solutions,”Amjad Atallah, managing director of Doha Debates, said.