Dar Loughat Granada in Qatar Debate – April 7-11, 2018

Dar Loughat-Granada had the honor to represent Spain in the 4th International Schools Arabic Debating Championship which took place in Doha, Qatar in April 2018.   The Granada based School was invited to field a young team of pre-university students learning Arabic for Spain’s first participation in this prestigious event for young debaters.

The purpose of this global debate event is to bring young Arabic and non-Arabic speaking debaters together from Europe, North and South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia.  Students from diverse backgrounds and different parts of the world meet to understand another’s point of view. Debaters come to question their pre-conceived notions and stereotypes and this brings tolerance and leads to a better understanding of the how they see the world.  Dar Loughat Granada located in the heart of the vibrant city of Granada, with its unique Andalusian heritage of convivencia, was the first choice for the QatarDebate organizers to find students learning Arabic in Spain.

Nizar Liemlahi, Founder and Director of Dar Loughat Granada, was first invited to attend the Training of Trainers (ToT) January workshop at the QatarDebate Centre in Doha. The aim of this is to equip teachers and trainers with the necessary skills to select, train and prepare their teams for the championship as best as possible.

On his return, several secondary school students learning Arabic at Dar Loughat Granada came to sit for a preliminary language test.   A team of 4 bright, motivated young students were selected.  They then trained for weeks with Nizar to learn the special art of debating in Arabic with a long list of subjects for debating practice and techniques to study.

More than 300 students from 50 different countries traveled to Doha in early April, accompanied by their coaches, for a unique, expenses paid, weeklong experience. Their accommodations and most dinners were provided in a centrally located 4 star hotel in the capital, Doha.  The debates, conferences and other meals all took place in the impressive Qatar National Convention Center where an efficient QatarDebate staff was ably assisted by Qatari volunteers from the Qatar Foundation.  The organization of the event was impeccable throughout.

Our enthusiastic Spanish team performed well, reaching the quarter finals, having debated against teams from Sudan and Kosovo, before barely losing to Serbia.  The standard of debating was varied, although the final on the last day, between a Lebanese and Turkish team, both girls, was extremely high.

This once in a lifetime experience in Qatar and financed by QatarDebate was unique in different ways for all the students involved, many of whom had never left their own countries prior to this trip.  After the first couple of days, friendships between teams of different countries and various nationalities were quickly made.  Visits to tourist spots, the   Islamic museums, markets and highlights of Doha were also an integral part of the week’s activities and much appreciated.   In addition to meeting students from all parts of the world, our students explained how much they had benefitted not only from learning Arabic and debating in a foreign language but also coming to understand different nationalities and their concerns.  The lingua franca of the convention was indeed Modern Standard Arabic, a remarkable achievement for these young people from all over the world.


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