Aligning with the Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture, Western Kentucky University (WKU) is to name one of its halls the QatarDebate Majlis.
The accolade reflects the efforts of QatarDebate – a member of Qatar Foundation (QF) – towards promoting a culture of debate and dialogue through various programmes, in co-operation with WKU and several other American universities, QF has said in a statement.
QatarDebate seeks to promote the Arabic language and enrich the experience of its learners by employing debate as a tool for developing their language skills.
The team members at the fifth IUDC, 2019
2020 represented a milestone in the partnership between QatarDebate and WKU, as both parties were scheduled to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in March on the sidelines of the fifth International Schools Debating Championship. The pandemic put a hold on those plans, yet both sides remained committed to the partnership and signed the MoU in December 2020, the statement noted.
Timothy Caboni, president of WKU, said: “The relationship between QatarDebate and Western Kentucky University is rooted in an infinite quest for knowledge. We value critical thinking in the rigours of reasoned discussion, through constructive and open dialogue.”
The agreement will provide a basis for future co-operation to spread the culture of debate and discussion in the Arabic language at WKU and in the US.
Dr Hayat Maraafi, executive director of QatarDebate, said: “In the fall of 2020, we worked with WKU to offer debate skills courses to students, with a focus on developing their Arabic speaking skills.
“In February of 2020, we also organised the first edition of the US High School Debating Championship in Arabic, with the participation of four schools vying for a coveted league title and to represent the US at the QatarDebate-organised fifth International Schools Debating Championship in Doha.
"After the success of the first US Universities Arabic Debating Championship 2019, QatarDebate will be organising the second edition of this tournament in 2021, with the final dates to be confirmed."
With the goal of advancing the Arabic language, QatarDebate, in collaboration with several US educational institutions, delivered university courses that teach debate skills for Arabic language learners at four US universities: the University of Utah, WKU, the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago.
QatarDebate developed a close relationship with many US educational institutions, in particular QKU, which participated in the International Universities Debating Championships (IUDC) in 2017 and 2019, both held in Doha.
“We've been welcoming students from Qatar to WKU for more than three decades, and are thankful for QatarDebate for hosting Western Kentucky University students, both in Doha and in the United States,” said Caboni.