Richard Melson

March 2006

DOHA Debates


15th March, 2006



After successfully broadcasting ten episodes of the Doha Debates on BBC World, Qatar Foundation has now added the first Doha Debates Special to the list.


The first ever Doha Debates Special to be broadcast on BBC World, is scheduled to air on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th of March, 2006. Hosted by Tim Sebastian, the Doha Debates Special offered students at Education City in Doha an opportunity to question four high-profile international dignitaries on the issues of combating extremism and improving relations between the West and Muslim world.

Although BBC World, the BBC’s international 24 hour news channel, broadcasting to nearly 270 million people in more than 200 countries worldwide, has broadcast 10 Doha Debates since January 2005, this will be the first Doha Debate Special to be broadcast on the channel. The Specials, which have a student-only audience and a different format to the Doha Debates, are intended to bring an added depth to topics at the forefront of people’s agendas. The Doha Debates Specials, which mark the 10th anniversary of Qatar Foundation, aim to provide students with an opportunity to directly question leading international figures on the issues of the day and the challenges of leadership.

This first Doha Debates Special to go on air was recorded on 28th February 2006 and includes delegates from the Doha meeting of the United Nation’s Alliance of Civilizations (AOC), of which H.H. Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned is an important member.


The 20 member group was created to generate action programs to counter the influence of groups fomenting extremism.  The distinguished AOC members who participated in the Doha Debates Special include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner and South African apartheid activist, and Dr John Esposito, Georgetown University professor and founding director of the Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding. They were joined by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, the US-based Islamic scholar, and Diana Buttu, former spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority.

Alexandra Willis, Series Producer of the Doha Debates, said "We are excited at the airing of this special, which marks Qatar Foundation’s 10th anniversary, and includes a particularly lively discussion on subjects that have been of great international interest and relevance recently." Willis added, "It is a great opportunity for the international audience to hear what young people in this region think about the problem of extremism and how to combat it."

Recent controversial matters were the highlights of the Special; from defining the concept of extremism to the reactions brought about by the Danish cartoons. Members of the AOC, along with the panel and students joined in the discussions. The broadcasting of the Doha Debates Special showcases Qatar Foundation’s dedication to the continuous promotion of discussion between different points of view and its pursuit of open and constructive dialogue


The Doha Debate Special will be broadcast on BBC World at:


Saturday 18th March 15:10 and repeated at 22:10

Sunday 19th March 08:10

Doha Times:

Saturday 18th   March 18:10 and repeated at 01:10 – (Sunday morning)

Sunday 19th March 11:10




To mark the 10th anniversary of Qatar Foundation, students in Doha are being given a unique opportunity to talk with some of the world's most famous names about the major issues of the day and the challenges of leadership.

The Doha Debates, a project of Qatar Foundation, are organizing a series of four special events with leading political figures. The series aims to provide the student audience with first-hand insight into how difficult and often life-changing decisions are made and how leaders are tackling some of the world’s most challenging problems.

Known as the Doha Debates Specials, these events are intended to further Qatar Foundation's vision to provide a forum for free and open speech, where people from various backgrounds, expertise and opinion come together to share their knowledge and exchange views.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton was the guest for the first Doha Debate Special, which was held on November 16th, 2005. President Clinton answered questions from students on issues ranging from U.S. policy in Iraq to
how young people in the Middle East should go about solving the social problems facing the region.

There will be a total of four Doha Debates Specials during the academic year 2005/2006. They are for a student-only audience and are held at Qatar Foundation headquarters.

THE DOHA DEBATES are a public forum for dialogue and freedom of speech in

Qatar. Each month invited speakers debate the burning issues of the Arab and

Islamic world in front of an audience who are encouraged to participate by asking


The Debates, a project of the Qatar Foundation, are chaired by the

internationally renowned broadcaster Tim Sebastian.

In the first series of the Doha Debates, held at the headquarters of Qatar Foundation in Doha’s Education City, prominent speakers included: Clare Short, British MP; Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, former Malaysian prime minister; Toujan Feisal, Jordan’s only female MP; Mustapha Ceric, the Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina; Fouad Ajami, director of Middle East Studies at Johns Hopkins University and adviser to the Bush administration; Rabbi Michael Melchior, Israeli minister; Ghassan Khatib, Palestinian minister; and Mohammed al Douri, former Iraqi ambassador to the U.N.

Prominent speakers for the second series have included Ahmed Maher, former Egyptian Foreign Minister; James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute; Ramzi Salman, advisor to Qatar's Minister of Energy and Industry and former deputy secretary general for OPEC and Raymond Tanter, former senior staff member of the U.S. National Security Council and personal representative of the U.S. Secretary of Defense to arms control talks in Europe in the Reagan-Bush administration For more information, please visit

QATAR FOUNDATION is a private, nonprofit, chartered organization committed to the principle that a nation’s greatest natural resource is its people. The foundation is headquartered in a unique Education City, which hosts numerous progressive learning institutions and centers of research, including branch campuses of five of the world’s leading universities.

For more information, please visit

For any questions or to arrange an interview please contact:

Julietta Mirghani

Hill & Knowlton Qatar LLC

International Public Relations and Public Affairs

Telephone: +974 413 1260

Fax: +974 413 1995

Mobile: +974 513 5819


The Panelists BIOGRAPHIES for the Doha Debates Special

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Hamza Yusuf was born in Washington State and raised in Northern California. In 1977, he became Muslim and subsequently traveled to the Muslim world and studied for ten years in the U. A. E., Saudi Arabia, as well as North and West Africa. He received teaching licenses in various Islamic subjects from several well-known scholars in various countries. After ten years of studies abroad, he returned to the USA and took degrees in Religious Studies and Health Care. He has traveled all over the world giving talks on Islam. He also founded Zaytuna Institute which has established an international reputation for presenting a classical picture of Islam in the West and which is dedicated to the revival of traditional study methods and the sciences of Islam. Shaykh Hamza is the first American lecturer to teach in Morocco's prestigious and oldest University, the Karaouine in Fes. In addition, he has translated into modern English several classical Arabic traditional texts and poems.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu (member of the Alliance of Civilizations)

Desmond Tutu is a Cleric, anti-apartheid activist and former Chairman of Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He won Noble Peace Prize in 1984. Tutu held various positions in the past. He was a Chancellor at the University of the Western Cape (1988); President of "All Africa Conference of Churches" (1987-1997); Archbishop of Cape Town - Anglican Church, Bishop of Johannesburg and Bishop of Lesotho for many years. He was also General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (1978-1984). His works include "Voice of the Voiceless" in 1988, "Crying in the Wilderness," and "An African Prayer Book."

Professor John L. Esposito (member of the Alliance of Civilizations)

John L. Esposito is University Professor as well as Professor of Religion and International Affairs and of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University. Previously, he was Loyola Professor of Middle East Studies and Director of the Center for International Studies at the College of the Holy Cross. Founding Director of Georgetown's Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding: History and International Affairs in the Walsh School of Foreign Service, he has served as President of the Middle East Studies Association of North America and of the American Council for the study of Islamic Societies. His more than 30 books include: Unholy Book: Terror in the Name of Islam and Women in Muslim Family Law. Professor Esposito resigned from the CSID Board of Directors in 2004.

Diana Buttu

Diana Buttu is a Palestinian-Canadian lawyer residing in the Gaza Strip.  In September 2000, she left behind her law career in Canada to move to the West Bank in order to serve a legal advisor to the PLO during the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations.  Ms Buttu was one of only four lawyers to attend the last round of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations (and the only female).  The negotiations broke down with the start of the Palestinian uprising.  Rather than leave the Middle East, Ms Buttu decided to remain, where she has witnessed, firsthand, life under occupation and its effects.  Through her work, she decided to establish an Israeli outreach program where she and colleagues spoke directly to ordinary Israelis explaining the effects of military occupation.


Doha Debates


PanelatDohaDebatesSpecial.jpg (0.06 MB)

BIO.doc (0.03 MB)

DianaButtu.jpg (0.03 MB)

HamzaYusuf.jpg (0.03 MB)

JohnEsposito.jpg (0.04 MB)

ArchbishopDesmondTutu.jpg (0.03 MB)

Studentaskingquestion,rabbiinfront.jpg (0.04 MB)

PR-ENG.doc (0.58 MB)


Wednesday, March 15, 2006