- The winning teams were announced after an intense round of debates discussing a diverse range of issues from filling quotas for women in government to media focus on the personal lives of politicians
- George Sebastian Hirjoaba and Ahmad Ali Gahallah were named the best speakers of the tournament
Abu Dhabi, UAE – November 24, 2019: The NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) Debate Union concluded its fourth annual UAE High School Debate Program, with Brighton College in Abu Dhabi recognized as the UAE High School Debate champions in the English division, and Al Ansar International Academy in Sharjah recognized as the Arabic division champions, while George Sebastian Hirjoaba and Ahmad Ali Gahallah won best speakers of the tournament held over the weekend.
In its largest edition to date, the parliamentary style debate program attracted over 150 students from 20 Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Al-Ain based schools, which was aimed at advancing the public speaking and critical thinking skills of students across the UAE.
The grand final motion in both divisions addressed adult children should support their parents by living with them rather than supporting their parents remotely.
The tournament followed two weeks of debate training given by experienced coaches from the NYU Abu Dhabi Debate Union, where the students were coached to discuss important and contemporary global issues. The diverse issues included media focus on the personal lives of politicians, quotas for female empowerment in government positions, the expansion of large corporations over local businesses, and adult children supporting aging parents. There were 50 teams at the tournament and over 200 debaters, adjudicators, volunteers, advisors, and parents in attendance.
'It was great to be able to interact and discuss these prominent ideas in our society with other people who are like minded and intellectually curious. It was very beneficial to come and discuss these motions, we have really learned a lot, especially when it comes to public speaking,' said winner of the English division of the tournament, Brighton College's student George Sebastian Hirjoaba.
'This debate program was a great opportunity for us to build bonds as a team. We worked together throughout the past week, and we are really grateful for the workshops and discussions that were given to us today. We are looking forward to joining the program next year and hopefully win again and meet more people,” said Al Ansar International School student Abdallah Hussein.
The tournament, held every fall, was adjudicated by NYUAD debaters, who have represented the University and achieved outstanding results in several local, regional and international debate tournaments. These include Oxford and Cambridge IV, World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC), European Universities Debating Championship (EUDC), in addition to recently participating in and taking first prize for the Astana Open tournament.
“When we started our debate programme three years ago, our aim was to use our tournament as a stepping stone towards building an active school debate circuit in the UAE. Especially because as our Debate Union has had to travel internationally to debate, we realized how entering the world of competitive debate has such a big barrier, and we are proud to see how far we have gotten in making debates more accessible to everyone,” said NYUAD's Class of 2022 and the Program Director for this year's tournament, Omair Rehman.
NYUAD's Debate Union's President Herbert Crowther said: “Being part of expanding the High School Tournament Program has been a gratifying experience. We are thrilled that the students had a valuable experience on campus, and likewise that our debaters enjoyed sharing their debate knowledge with eager learners. We are looking for more ways to expand our community engagement in Abu Dhabi and the UAE, and this year's tournament was a great example of this impetus.”
Organized by NYUAD's Debate Union team, and led by a team of three students: Class of 2022 and the Program Director Omair Rehman; Class of 2020 and serves as Strategic Advisor Matea Kocevska; Class of 2021 and the Debate Union's President Herbert Crowther, who overlooks all of the Union's projects. From the faculty side, Assistant Dean of Students & Director of Athletics at NYUAD Peter Dicce supported the tournament as an advisor.
The Union organizes intense weekly practices for its members, debate community events and workshops on campus.