There is probably not an MUN program or conference in the GCC region that has not felt the bite of the blockade currently in place against Qatar. I will leave it to future delegate-diplomats to sort through the chaos and find solutions to an events such as these. But for the poor-suffering conference manager trying to keep a chaotic situation from blowing a hole in their conference preparations? Well, here’s a breif recap of the challenges we are facing.
Before I share this, let’s just reflect on the fact that the MUN community is that, A COMMUNITY. As Model United Nations has grown in the region, many of us have worked together, closely together, to support our students in this meaningful academic simulation. Conferences have been started, student leadership developed, increasing numbers of schools participating in MUN, and more and more teachers receiving Best Delegate training. Quality of debate has gone up, student initiatives around MUN have gone up, and the prestige of the program in many schools has become an important and driving force in the life of many students. And many of us have worked very hard for many years to get us to this point.
The blockade has impacted every country with MUN programs and it’s a two way street.
- Schools cannot travel to Doha for THIMUN Qatar. We lost over 20 schools due to travel restrictions.
- Airfare in the region has become prohibitively expensive. Schools in Oman got priced out due to airfare costs. They were not alone.
- Conferences in Bahrain and Dubai, having slowly built up their international clientele for years, found THAT crippled due to Qatar programs not being able to participate in their events.
- And then there’s Egypt…and Jordan….
And it’s not just conference attendance. This also affects the leadership development of student officers and executives. A skilled student officer can chair at multiple conference, and these experiences help prepare them for leadership roles back at their schools. THIMUN Middle East conferences are driven by unparalleled student control and leadership. Delegates are not able to debate, but student leaders aren’t able to lead. The first is bad; the second is unconscionable.
To all my fellow MUN Directors and conference organizers, delegates and students out there, all I can say is ‘hang tough’. This too shall pass. Stand strong in the face of adversity. Schools and Administrations grappling with struggling regional conferences and attendance? Show your MUN programs some love! Your support and a willingness to be flexible will make all the difference in the world to the programs that we all know and love. The MUN community in the GCC region thanks you for that!
And until we can see you in person, THIMUN Qatar sends our love! We missed you, and we hope next year will be different.
And with that, we now yield the floor to the diplomats in the region. The floor is open. You may begin….