Fourth World Conference on Oratory, Debate and Dialogue

Doha, 11 January 2013

May peace be upon you.

I greet you all, participants and guests.

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.

I welcome the opportunity to address you as you gather to discuss dexterity and eloquence in the use of language and the art of public speaking, debate and dialogue. These are methods of expression used by man since ancient times. Today, we can witness their revival and renewal and its great impact on media, politics, education and crisis management.

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.

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.

Our young people have levels of awareness and education that allow for a structure of awareness to be built from bottom to top, not vice versa. 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.

They now enjoy a new and effective role and increased influence, thanks to their collective and cross-border dialogue through the tools of the technology and communication revolution. Their realities stretch far beyond the boundaries of traditional institutions.

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. Eventually they succeeded in influencing their conditions and led the processes that changed their realities. Later the dialogue went back into its rightful place: in the capitals of these revolutions and was no longer confined to social media and websites.

We all know the inspirational aphorism that young people are the leaders of the future. However, 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.

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.
The challenges and conditions of the future require confident youth … youth with strong personalities … youth who have the acceptance of the other… who believe in dialogue and its logic… who use critical thinking as a means… who use the 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.

It is specifically there, where students learn, that the logic of argument vs. argument becomes the civilized alternative to the chaos of weapon vs. weapon, that the dictions of debate, dialogue and logic are the principles of peace as opposed to aggression, repression, oppression and exclusion.

That is why our vision for education and development in Qatar includes educational curricula and teaching methods based on debate, deepening the culture of dialogue, developing the dialogue capacity of students, stimulating the critical thinking they have 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.

I warmly welcome this conference and its endeavour to root the methodology of empowerment in education systems. We must remind the world that negligence in preparing the youth for future leadership puts the future itself at risk.
I wish you the greatest of success with this conference ... Thank you.