Doha Debates is a series of debates about urgent global topics such as the refugee crisis, water shortage, loss of trust in institutions, gender inequality, capitalism, global citizenship and artificial intelligence.[1] The franchise is funded by Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.[2] Doha Debates first ran from 2005 to 2012,[3] and in 2018 it was relaunched under a new format using live debates, videos, blogs and podcasts.[4] Journalist Ghida Fakhry is the moderator for the debates, and Nelufar Hedayat is the correspondent.[5] The current managing director is Amjad Atallah, the former editor in chief of Al Jazeera America. [6]

Doha Debates also hosts its own audiovisual Portal at Qatar National Library to allow members of the public to interact in real time with users at more than 40 locations worldwide as if they are in the same room, creating a virtual majilis to discuss the debate topics.[2] On 16 January 2019, Doha Debates and TED Salon organized "Up for Debate," a session of curated talks about the importance of civic discourse and debate. [7]


The Doha Debates was founded in 2005, moderated by former BBC correspondent and interviewer Tim Sebastian, with Qatar Foundation as the sponsor. Televised eight times a year by BBC World News until 2012, the debates were based on the Oxford Union format. They focused on a single, controversial motion, with two speakers for and against. Once they outlined their arguments, each speaker was questioned by the chairman and the discussion is then opened up to the audience for argument and a final electronic vote. Topics included torture, terrorism and suicide bombings, political turmoil and human rights. Past motions questioned whether it was time to talk to Al Qaeda, whether Hezbollah had the right to fight a war on Lebanon’s behalf, and whether the pro-Israel lobby was successfully stifling criticism of the country’s actions.[8]

Special events featuring Q&A sessions with a single guest included figures such as Bill Clinton, Mohamed El Baradei, Shimon Peres, Amre Moussa, Ayad Allawi, and Mahmoud Zahar.[9]


Political activist Charles Jacobs criticized the Doha Debates as "the latest cunning public relations move by an illiberal regime that has been able to ingratiate itself to Western liberal elites with remarkable ease." He also condemned media and educational organizations such as NowThis, Vox, and TED Talks for partnering with Qatar to produce the Doha Debates and said, "For the right price, NowThis will ignore an egregious human rights record and overlook modern-day slavery; Vox Media will embrace a government whose treatment of laborers, gays, and minorities should relegate it to the darkest corners of the family of nations."[10]


  1. ^ "QF launches innovative concept for Doha Debates".
  2. ^ a b "Doha Debates aims to inspire new generation of global change-makers".
  3. ^ "It's Time for a New Kind of Debate".
  4. ^ "About Doha Debates".
  5. ^ "Moderators and Correspondents".
  6. ^ "Amjad Atallah". Doha Debates. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  7. ^ "Up for Debate: Talks from TED and Doha Debates". Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  8. ^ "Past Debates".
  9. ^ "Special Debates".
  10. ^ "Liberal media sells out to Qatar". Washington Examiner. 6 December 2019.

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