Posted on January 11, 2015

From Thursday, January 8th to Sunday, January 11th, over 270 high school students representing 20 countries took part in intense diplomatic strategy and role playing sessions at Georgetown University in Qatar’s annual Model United Nations (MUN) conference held at the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) in Doha. At the student-organized forum, participating high school students from 52 schools including 29 from Qatar, debated, deliberated, and developed hypothetical solutions to the issues that real UN officials are dealing with under the theme “The World in Turmoil: The Politics of Change”.

At the opening ceremony, Dr. Tarik Yousef, the CEO of Silatech, a Qatar-based NGO that works to create jobs and expand economic opportunities for young people throughout the Arab world, gave the keynote address to launch the 10th Annual MUN conference.. This year’s MUN caps a full decade of GU-Q Model UN sessions and coincides with the university’s ten year anniversary in Education City in Doha. A redesigned logo marked the special significance of this year’s conference, and could be seen on the note pads, duffel bags and t-shirts the excited students received at registration.

Georgetown in Qatar celebrates ten years 2 [].jpg“In our 10th anniversary, we wanted to think outside the box and really bring something new to the conference,” said Student Development Officer and event co-organizer Mohamed Harb, who himself attended four MUNs as a GU-Q student before graduating last year. “The MUN is the only GU-Q program that has spanned the entire ten years of the school’s history, so we decided to invite students who took part in that first conference to take part this year.” Other additions this year reflect the conference’s maturity, including the introduction of a mock Gulf Cooperation Council committee where students representing each Gulf country focused on reforms on migrant labor and counterterrorism efforts across the region.

This year’s theme along with the committees and committee topics were all chosen by the GU-Q MUN Student Board. Issues discussed were ripped from today’s headlines and included the Ebola response, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the crisis in Ukraine, the Basque and Scottish separatist movements, and gender equality and human trafficking. Commenting on the theme of this year’s conference, A World in Turmoil, Dr. Gerd Nonneman, dean of GU-Q, said: “We are living in a country, Qatar, that is at the center of a region embroiled in spectacular political, social, and economic shifts, which makes this theme of particular significance for us. I am very proud of the hard work our students and staff put into making the last ten years of the MUN such a resounding success, and I look forward to the next ten.”

Georgetown in Qatar celebrates ten years 3 [].jpgAll of the sessions of the MUN were held at the QNCC, but participating students also visited the school’s campus for separate events. A festive Cultural Night allowed the internationally diverse students to showcase their culture through traditional food, flags, dress and artistic performances, and a Georgetown Open House showcased the university’s academic offerings to the future college students.

“At the Open House, students took part in sample lectures presented by our world class faculty as a sneak peek into the high level of intellectual development Georgetown offers. We also had an open panel moderated by our own Dr. Mehran Kamrava and featuring the ambassadors of the United States and South Africa to Qatar, Ambassador Saad Cachalia and Ambassador Nicholas Hopton,” said Educational Enrichment manager, Sheena Martinez, who oversees the organization of the MUN as a part of the school’s commitment to engaging local and international schools and encouraging learning outside the classroom. “Students had the opportunity to pose questions to the panel, and after the debate, had the chance to mingle with the seasoned diplomats, which is a really wonderful highlight of our Model UN.”

Over the past ten years, the GU-Q MUN has engaged 1,104 local students, 1,980 international students, 48 local schools, and 134 international schools. GU-Q recently took the popular student forum to India for the first time. The University has plans for more regional engagement through the program.