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Illustration by Tom Abi Samra

Abu Dhabi Schools Debate Tournament

NYU Abu Dhabi hosts 100 UAE high school students from 12 different schools for competitive debate tournament.

The UAE Schools Debate Tournament, hosted by NYU Abu Dhabi, took place from Nov. 23 to Nov. 24. Over 100 UAE high school students from 12 different schools were in attendance, all of which had come to NYUAD the previous weekend to be trained for the debate. The tournament had both an English and an Arabic section.
The tournament is a student-led initiative of the NYUAD Debate Union. The tournament director was Matea Kocevska, Class of 2020, who is a member of NYUAD’s competitive Debate Team. This is the third year of the tournament, which aims to expand the culture of debate within the UAE. The tournament is also the first of its kind in the UAE and is conducted in the British Parliamentary style of debate.
High school participants in the tournament were invited to come to an informative training session on Nov. 17. The session covered the basics of the British Parliamentary style of debate and taught skills like critical thinking and argument building. Advisors for the teams were also invited to the session and participated in a workshop on how to set up a debate team.
The aim of the sessions was to create an independent system of debate competitions within the UAE. In the previous years of the tournament, it was much smaller in scale and only had an English section. For two years, the tournament was only composed of five teams largely based in Abu Dhabi. The tournament tripled in size this year, with participating teams traveling from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Al Ain.
“We’re trying to pioneer the debate union among high school students in the UAE. We want to create a debate circuit within the UAE and that’s the greater vision of the tournament.” said Kocevska.
The winner of the English section was a team from the British School Al Khubairat. Second place was taken by a team from the Home Education Network Abu Dhabi and the third place team was from Al Ansar International School. The Arabic section winner was from the Rosary School. Twenty NYUAD students — who had worked with the Debate Union before and were trained by the organizers of the event — served as adjudicators during the tournament.
Kocevska got lots of positive feedback from coaches, students and parents. She hopes the tournament continues to expand.
“I’m really happy that I got to organize this and that this was a huge success.” she remarked.
Mari Velasquez-Soler is Deputy News Editor. Email her at
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