QatarDebate recently held a debate on the use of social networking and online services, with students arguing in Arabic over whether “the use of Arabic digital content does more good than harm.”
The event was held at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar and was attended by a large number of ‘Arabic Tweeting Ambassadors’ from throughout the region, who work to increase Arabic digital content and support and encourage more Arabic language users on Twitter.
The proposition was comprised of Manar al-Suweide, Sara Abd al-Malik and Mohamed Ibrahim from Amna Bint Wahab Independent Secondary School for Girls, Qatar University and Omar bin al-Khattab Independent Secondary School for Boys, while the opposition team was represented by Fatima Sayed, Syihab al-Syehabi and Ghoror Abd al-Wahid from Qatar University, Al-Wakrah Independent Secondary School for Boys and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar respectively.
Executive director of QatarDebate, Hayat Ma’arafi said: “Organising this debate is part of QatarDebate’s solid commitment to support and preserve the Arabic language. Our first step in this big project, adopted by the centre with support of Qatar Foundation in order to preserve and upgrade Arabic language, was launching the first book about debate in Arabic (‘Al-Mursheed fi fan al-Munazarah’) and organising the first Intervarsity Arabic debate championship with the participation of 12 countries.”
Ma’arafi expressed her support for Arabic tweeting programmes, and promised that QatarDebate will be launching programmes in the future to help unlock potential and creativity in young people throughout the country.
Occupational health specialist, Dr Sajid al-Abdeli who attended the event from Kuwait, said he heard about the debate through Twitter and had been spreading awareness throughout his 30,000 followers on the site.
He argued that Twitter should be used to develop Arabic content online in general, and praised QatarDebate for their efforts.
Journalist Mariam al-Khater highlighted the importance of social networking for youth throughout the Arab world at the moment, as well as the part it can play in developing and supporting the Arabic language in general.
She said that youth had an obligation to preserve the Arabic language, and said that using technology is the best way for the modern generation to do so.
“We do not want Arabic language to reach a dying age - it will always stay young because it is the language of the Holy Qur’an that everlasting miracle,” she said.
Fatimah al-Khater, a Qatari student who founded the “Let’s Tweet in Arabic initiative” spoke about the support she received for her initiative, and thanked QatarDebate for their efforts to promote Arabic social networking.
Representative of the Arabic tweeting ambassadors, Tariq al-Saadah also argued about the importance of Twitter for the future of creating and encouraging Arabic digital content.
The debate focused on the way in which digital content has revived Arabic language, by gathering young people together regardless of racial or political divisions and helping to encourage communication between people from throughout the region.
The opposition team argued that the lack of proofreading or checks on the language being used on social networking sites causes more damage than good, and is contributing towards destroying the language.
A question-and-answer session followed the debate, with some 60 tweeters from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, Canada, Bahrain and the UAE as well as local enthusiasts participating.
They also discussed the launch of a ‘tweeting chain’ which enables people from throughout the region to communicate on a selected topic on a bi-monthly basis.
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