By Puteri Balkish, Syakir Nizam and Alis Nerindo
SEPANG, 14 April 2017 – The IIUM Arabic debate team was given a warm welcome upon arrival at KLIA last night following successful participation in the International University Arabic Debating Championship (IUADC) in Doha, Qatar on Wednesday (12 April).
On hand to welcome the team was the Dean of Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences (KIRKHS), Prof. Dr. Rahmah Ahmad Hj. Osman.
The team was also greeted by student leaders which included two students from the Students’ Representative Council (SRC), eight Council members of IRKHS Students’ Society, led by its President, Siti Ummi Hatiqah Mohamad Fahmy, and 18 Arabic Debate Club members.
The four debaters were grinning from ear to ear as they walked through the arrival hall to the rousing welcome of about 30 people from the IIUM community.
The debaters reached the arrival hall just in the nick of time after the welcoming committee arrived.
As soon as one of the members of the welcoming party caught a glimpse of the debaters, a rousing round of applause was given and there were all smiles while some of them held banners with words of welcome.
The coach for the debating team was Ustaz Salah Awadalla Sidig Mohamed, who is also a lecturer of the Centre for Languages and Pre-University Academic Development (CELPAD). He expressed his appreciation and was honored to be given the responsibility to manage and train the debaters.
Earlier, the aircraft carrying the debaters touched down in KLIA at 9.20 p.m.
The team flew to Doha, Qatar last Thursday (6 April 2017) at 08.30 a.m with Qatar Airways.
Every two years, the competition is held in Doha, Qatar comprising debaters of international universities from every corner of the globe.
Expectations were not much as it was this newly-composed team’s first win at the large-scale competition after four editions of the competition were held. Before this, IIUM won the first edition, but the team consisted of Arabic native speakers. This is the first time all members of the team are non-Arab native speakers.
Despite being the runner-up, their spirits were not bent as they went against the reigning champion of two editions, Qatar University, in the epic final.
One of the debaters who ranked as the third best speaker, Muhammad Nurfirman Mohamed, an international student from Singapore, said, “After winning the first round, we gained momentum, we went to the knock outs and after that, it was fifty-fifty but we were confident all the way.”
Asked about their experience during the finals, they said it was the beauty of being united by one language which is Arabic, the language of the Holy Book, despite being of different colours, races and nationalities. Among the competitors were teams from France, Germany and Italy.
Topics were not given beforehand and they were supposed to debate in the Qatari style, so they took a month or two before the competition to begin intensive training.
When enquired about their experience facing the opponent during the finals, they mentioned that they were not stressed or tense as their reputation was not at stake in contrast to the Qatari team which is the defending champion.
They spoke about being underestimated by other prominent teams as ‘this particular team’ is a newly-established one and the last time IIUM won was eight years ago during the first edition. Nonetheless, their spirit rekindled as they managed to gain respect from the competitors after proving their capabilities in debating articulately and magniloquently prior to every round of debate.
Competing in the native speaker category only proves that they were willing to challenge their limits as their mother tongue is Bahasa Malaysia and not Arabic.
The Dean of KIRKHS, Prof. Dr. Rahmah Ahmad Hj. Osman, was overwhelmed in expressing her utmost gratitude to the team.
“As IIUM, being an Islamic university, we are capable of birthing top-notch debaters that are not only equipped with Islamic values and education, but are also able to speak Arabic like an Arab,” she said. ***