HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation (QF), attended the debut live event of the relaunched Doha Debates, which saw a diverse range of participants from Qatar and abroad share and debate suggestions for alleviating the world’s urgent and worsening refugee crisis.
QF Vice Chairperson and CEO, HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, also attended the event, which was held at QF partner university, Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q).
The debate participants included a young Syrian refugee and education activist, award-winning US and British journalists, Iranian-born conflict mediator, a Lebanese debate moderator, and an Afghan refugee, who also took the role of the debate’s digital host, with audience contributions from QF students and Twitter livestream participants from around the world.
First Topic: The Refugee Crisis
Through the innovative new format for Doha Debates, moderator Ghida Fakhry challenged participants to focus on solutions to the refugee crisis, while the debate’s digital host, Nelufar Hedayat, highlighted ideas from the international audience participating via Twitter.
The Doha-based audience then voted on the most effective solution to the crisis, choosing ‘Resist power. Push back’ as proposed by debate participant Marc Lamont Hill. Hill, a US professor, activist and journalist said we can ‘reimagine’ ourselves as a global community rather than a local community.
Debate speaker Muzoon Almellehan, a 20-year-old Syrian refugee and education proponent, spoke of the importance of education in giving refugees hope.
Many of us think of refugees as numbers, but behind every number, there is a story. Why judge people at a time when they need hope, believe in a better life, and want to build a future for themselves and their children?’
British author and political commentator Douglas Murray highlighted ‘competing virtues’ in the context of migration.
The first virtue is mercy, the desire to be merciful to fellow humans who are suffering. And the second is justice — not just for those who are fleeing countries, but for those in the countries they are fleeing to.
According to Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, the debate’s bridge-building ‘connector’ and the founder and executive director of the International Civil Society Action Network, the refugee crisis is not an easy issue, but it needs to be discussed because the problem is urgent.
Every day children are out of school is a day their lives are put on hold, and a day they are not fulfilling their potential.’
Managing Director of Doha Debates Amjad Atallah applauded the response and the calibre of contributions to the first live event. The tone and quality of the Doha Debates conversation sets a new high bar for discourse on complex and difficult issues. Everyone – guests, participants and even those online, were able to experience being part of a timely discussion, proposing solutions that can and may, actually work.
The full debate and highlights of the event, can be viewed online through the Doha Debates website and social media channels, with the conversation continuing using the hashtag #DearWorld.
The new concept of Doha Debates builds on the tradition of examining complex global issues established by its original launch 14 years ago – through live debates, digital videos, a TV series, blogs and podcasts – on the world’s most pressing challenges. This innovative approach includes majlis-style discussions designed to bridge differences, build consensus and identify solutions to urgent global issues.
The next live Doha Debates event is set to take place on 3 April at NU-Q. The merits and challenges of Artificial Intelligence will be put upfront.