QATAR: Call for culture of dialogue

Qatar Foundation chairperson HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser yesterday observed that dialogue and debate as well as mutual understanding were now more important than ever before, especially after centuries of clashes and resentment and of power struggles and conflicts.

HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser speaking at the fourth International Conference on Argumentation, Rhetoric, Debate and the Pedagogy of Empowerment at the Qatar National Convention Centre

Making an opening address at the fourth International Conference on Argumentation, Rhetoric, Debate and the Pedagogy of Empowerment, being organised by Qatar Debate at the Qatar National Convention Centre, she maintained that debate and dialogue were methods of expression that had been used by man since ancient times.

The conference has the theme: “Thinking and Speaking A Better World”.

“Today, we can witness the revival and renewal of debate and dialogue as well as their great impact on media, politics, education and crisis management,” she said.

“In today’s world, dialogue and debate are more important than ever before. After centuries of clashes and resentment, of power struggles and conflicts, we now have unprecedented opportunities for dialogue and mutual understanding.”

While acknowledging and thanking the conference organisers for making available the language of debate during the conference, being held for the first time in the Arab world, in both English and Arabic,  Sheikha Moza said: “I am pleased that your conference is taking place in Doha, for the very first time in an Arab country, and to have Arabic, along with English, as the language of debate.”

“Dialogue creates a structure of awareness that must be between people across society and must be rooted in education. The tremendous impact of technological advances on the nature, form and space of debate now allow for lively and continuous debate
between people all across the world.”

Sheikha Moza explained that young people had levels of awareness and education that enabled them to influence and build society from bottom to top and not vice versa.

She said: “Any attempts to put constraints on the freedom of expression are now in vain. In the past, our young people were mere recipients of information and boundaries. Their reality was set for them by traditional institutions. But today their role in society has undergone a major shift.

 “The people’s revolutions in our region showed us that when the Arab youth could no longer accept the despotism that set their reality, they took to the alternative reality of social media to conduct their debates and dialogues.”

Making reference to the inspirational aphorism that “young people are the leaders of the future”,  Sheikha Moza stated that “the world has been too slow in putting this into practice”.

“While young people are the most important element for driving change in our societies, statistical and objective facts show that society also has a duty to prepare them properly for effective decision-making and leadership,” she noted.

“The ability to dialogue, to debate and to use rhetoric are among the most important conditions in these roles that help develop young people to become  representatives of a generation, of an era, of a vision of the future.”

Sheikha Moza maintained that the challenges and conditions of the future required confident youth with strong personalities and those who had the acceptance of the other and those who believed in dialogue and its logic as well as used critical thinking as a means and culture of peace and tolerance as a trend.

“If we are to build a safe world and generations that have a tendency towards peace, then it is inevitable to raise them and teach them the culture of dialogue instead of the culture of violence… to train students to express their opinion and accept the opinions of others; to support the tendency towards criticism of reality and knowledge; and to believe that dialectics and debate are the keys to driving progress, as proven by the history of thought in the world.

“We cannot raise responsible adults or develop leaders  without education.…it is through education that we build humans. With education starts the expression of opinions by using logic and then the critical act grows to become critical thinking, innovative and not an idle mind that only copies,” she noted , adding that was why the vision for education and development in Qatar included  curricula and teaching methods based on debate, deepening the culture of dialogue, developing the dialogue capacity of students, stimulating the critical thinking they had and promoting the spirit of innovation in the industry of ideas, in order to prepare them for leadership roles in the present and the future.


120 research papers being presented at the conference

Some 150 academics, educators and  experts  participate in the fourth International Conference on Argumentation, Rhetoric, Debate and the Pedagogy of Empowerment, conference, presenting 120 research papers over three days. The conference has Arabic, along with English, as the language of debate for the first time.

Source: Caye Global News, Gulf Times


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