The Munathara Initiative
Our vision is to create independent, fair and representative discourse
in the Arab world through our online debating forum in which anyone can take
part and voice their opinions, regardless of social status, gender, education,
or even location.
The youth of the Middle East and North Africa were the drivers of the movements towards a more democratic region. However, as many countries in the region react to continued instability, youth, women, and other marginalized communities are still not included in the important conversations happening that will decide the future of the region. Debate provides a structured and inclusive way to foster the constructive public discourse that is crucial in a polarized political context. Every lost voice means lost potential for the advancement of our region. Every voice matters.
Munathara organizes both online debates and live panel debates throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Anyone can take part in our forum by submitting an opinion video of up to 99 seconds on our current debate topics. “Opinion leaders” are chosen by voters; ratings and votes will determine which videos move up in the ranking. And, as part of our regular Musabaqat (debate competitions), we invite two top-ranking debaters, new opinion leaders selected by the voters, to take part in our live panel debates alongside well-known public figures, such as Shadi Hamid, Abdel Bari Atwan, and Mona El Tahawy.
The Munathara Initiative began as The Dubai Debates in January 2011 as the first independent public debating forum of the Arab world. It was suspended in the spring of 2012 as part of the UAE’s crackdown on NGOs. Munathara was then founded in Tunis to replace Dubai Debates and seeks to expand free debate to the entire Arabic-speaking world. The Munathara Initiative has trained more than 800 youth, garnered more than 350,000 views on YouTube, and reached millions of viewers through television broadcasted debates. Munathara’s Founder was also awarded the “Democracy Award” in 2013 by the National Democratic Institute in the US for his work with the Munathara Initiative.