QatarDebate Centre, an initiative of Qatar Foundation (QF), on Saturday launched the fifth International Universities Arabic Debating Championship, said to be the largest university debate competition. 
Six teams from Qatar are participating in the competition.
Held under the patronage of HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani, Vice-Chairperson and CEO of QF, the championship is being attended by 107 teams from 51 countries.
An opening ceremony was held at the Qatar National Convention Centre, attended by more than 600 delegates from the participating countries. The participating teams are from both Arabic and Non-Arabic speaking countries.
"The championship is an opportunity to learn and practise Arabic language, which is fast becoming a language of research, literature and creativity. Debating is an art that promotes critical thinking and well-reasoned communication. This year’s edition is unique because of its large and broad international participation. The championship features 107 teams representing 51 countries,” said Dr Hayat Maarafi – executive director, QatarDebate at the opening ceremony.
Six teams that represent Qatar are: Two teams – one each for boys and girls from Qatar University, two teams- for boys and girls- from the Community College Qatar, a team from Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar as well as another team from Police Academy. 
Speaking to Gulf Times, Noor al-Dulaimi, representing a four-member team from the University of Utah in the US, said it was very exciting to be part of such a great debate championship. 
“We are participating in the championship for the first time and we are all excited about it. With my fellow team mates, we started the preparations for the competition from November 2018. The championship is also an opportunity for us to learn more about the Middle East and interact with several university students from around the world," explained al-Dulaimi.
At a press conference held on the sidelines of the championship, representatives of the teams from Qatar shared their views on the championship and spoke about their preparations for the championship. They said that they are not only debating but experiencing different cultures while interacting with teams from different countries. They noted that the championship is an opportunity for them to hone their public speaking skills, and become more tolerant to various ideas. They also said that debating help them academically and in their personal lives as they become emotionally more mature.
Dr Hafsat Abiola, president of the Women in Africa Initiative and a Nigerian civil rights activist who is currently in Qatar, visited the championship. She gave an inspirational speech highlighting the challenges. She also described the difficulties she and her family had to face during their political struggles trying to improve the lives of fellow Nigerians. She stressed the important role women must play by actively participating in all walks of life.