Over 100 students from 12 high schools in Qatar took part in the first virtual Model United Nations (MUN) conference at QF partner Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q).

Over three days, young delegates took on the roles of UN ambassadors to solve global issues under the theme of “Diversity and Integration in a World of Conflict.”

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s Fall MUN went online to ensure Qatar’s high school students were offered the opportunity to develop a host of critical skills through the program and are better prepared to take on the challenge of GU-Q’s main international MUN which is held in the spring.

Jibin Koshy, educational enrichment manager at GU-Q, explained the rationale for hosting this additional, specialised MUN for local students.

“As an institution in Qatar trying to improve the experience of the national education sector, we wanted to offer additional training to give local students a competitive edge. And as a result, more local students are winning awards at our international MUN, and that means they are also gaining more skills that they can take with them back into the classroom, and in whatever else they do.”

Although the conference has gone online, he added, it doesn’t mean that it is a simple online simulation. “This year, our students can’t negotiate face to face, which is a big part of UN diplomacy. So we have worked to recreate the formalities of a diplomatic community using the many IT tools we have at our disposal. Students can still engage, work as teams in breakout rooms, and experience an MUN that can create lifelong friendships, and allow them to hone their communication, problem solving, and research skills."

Schools were allowed to send up to two delegations of six students each, for a total of 12 students per school. Working in committees, delegations of students then discussed and deliberated real-life global issues that have been taken up at the United Nations, including economic instability in Venezuela, corporate responsibility, nuclear proliferation, global disability rights, civilian rights in Kashmir, the Rohingya crisis, and political stability in post-Arab Spring countries.

Recognising the massive effort and mobilisation of GU-Q student volunteers who comprise the MUN Student Board, Student Organisers, Student Chairs, Press and Staff members, Koshy said: “We are especially proud of our team of 30 Georgetown students who worked tirelessly to put together this conference despite the challenges presented by the pandemic and we applaud their commitment towards our flagship initiative. This conference is a testament to the undying spirit of both Georgetown and high school students in Qatar.”