Winners Announced at NYUAD's Fourth Annual High School Debate Tournament

Eric Zhou and Ahmad Ali Gahallah were named the best speakers of the tournament

Press Release

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 Eric Zhou 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.

"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," 

Brighton College student George Sebastian Hirjoaba

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.

"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,”

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.

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.”

“When we started our debate program three years ago, our aim was to use our tournament as a stepping stone towards building an active school debate circuit in the UAE. We are proud to see how far we have gotten in making debates more accessible to everyone,”

NYUAD’s Class of 2022 and the Program Director for this year’s tournament, Omair Rehman

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 and Director of Athletics at NYUAD Peter Dicce supported the tournament as an advisor.


About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and science campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly-selective liberal arts, engineering and science curriculum with a world center for advanced research and scholarship enabling its students to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from 115 nations and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.