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Posted On: 2 June 2008 06:32 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:08 pm

Doha Debates - Well received

Khalifa Al Haroon
Khalifa Al Haroon
Your friendly neighborhood Qatari
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Reaction to the fourth series of Doha Debates, hosted by Tim Sebastian, has been overwhelmingly positive in Qatar and abroad, according to a senior official of BBC World News. The Doha Debates team concluded a successful fourth series last night with an end of year party at La Cigale Hotel to thank the staff of Qatar Foundation, students and its closest supporters. Two hundred invitees, mostly Qatar Foundation staff, joined the Doha Debates team for dinner and a screening of highlights of a documentary that charted the experiences of the student delegation that travelled to the UK to take part in the Doha Debate at the prestigious Cambridge Union in November 2007. Addressing the guests, Doha Debates Chairman Tim Sebastian said: "The motions chosen during the fourth series have been bold; they have challenged opinions and accepted wisdom, and have put issues and people under pressure". The series featured eight events, six of which followed an Oxford Union style debate and tackled some of the most important issues of the year, including the conflict in Darfur, whether it is time to talk to Al Qaeda, internal Palestinian divisions, and whether Muslims are failing to combat religious extremism. Two events were Doha Debates Specials, where a single high-profile guest was questioned by Tim Sebastian and the audience. The guests were former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Al Zahar. Narendhra Morar, Head of Programmes for BBC World News, commented that the Doha Debates "are a valuable addition to the channel's output and provide a unique insight into a key, and for us, important region". The Doha Debates are now established as one of the top-rated weekend programmes on BBC World News, and there is huge demand for audience tickets in Doha. The figures for website hits and visitors have grown exponentially, with monthly hits jumping by 300 percent over the course of this current series, with the one million mark being broken in May 2008 for the first time. Ali Willis, Series Producer, commented at the event that Qatar's debating community has greatly expanded. "During this series we widened our outreach programme significantly, so much so that an entirely new Qatar Foundation project — QatarDebate — was created to cater to the huge demand for debating activities in Qatar.” The Doha Debates will be back, challenging more opinions in a fifth series starting in September 2008. The Pen