Full Circle: THIMUN club launched in Kabul

The THIMUN Qatar-Afghanistan initiative is now in its fifth month. The five delegates who traveled to Doha in February are now well into their club activities, having taken the complete journey from novice delegates to experienced club volunteers. For those unfamiliar with the initiative, a little background is in order.

Students in Kabul worked online with other delegates from Qatar and around the world.

The idea of a collaborative project was born out of informal conversations at the Qatar Leadership Conference. Like all good QLC initiatives, it started as a ‘what if’ conversation, and by the time the Head of THIMUN Qatar, Lisa Martin, and UN Habitat’s head of mission in Afghanistan, Peter Daglish were done, the idea of a travel team to Qatar had been formulated. For three months, students from Qatar and around the world mentored the five Afghan Delegates, (as well as a larger group of students in Dalglish’s ‘Super English’ class). These students worked together via skype, Blackboard Collaborate and Facebook to prep and train one another. The Gang of Five, as they were affectionately called by the organizers, arrived in Doha not only bursting with enthusiasm, but armed with policy statements, opening speeches and resolutions.

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Some of the Afghan students entering the UN Habitat compound where they held their first MUN sessions via Blackboard Collaborate.

THIMUN Qatar-Doha
The Afghan delegates participated successfully in their committee. They also took the conference by storm, making friends, holding press conferences, networking with students from around the world and in one special case, becoming very close with the John Burroughs School from Missouri, USA. The two delegations played tourist together, visiting the Islamic Art Museum, the souk, and even taking a very special Dhow ride. The Afghan students also visited the American School of Doha’s Sport’s Day, were invited to an old fashioned BBQ, and went to the mall and the movies.


With the John Burrough’s Delegation

      Mursal in committee

Samir at the Closing Ceremony





Madina on her board

At the cultural night the last evening of the conference, the delegates wowed their friends with some skateboarding, even enticing Lisa Martin onto a board for a few brief seconds.
It could have ended there. But as we know, once the MUN seed is planted, it is often quick to take root, and so the Gang of Five headed back to Kabul, armed with ideas and new-found knowledge and experience. If the trip to Doha seemed rather miraculous, what happened next was even more so.

THIMUN in Afghanistan
On a cold day in early March, the first THIMUN meeting was held in Afghanistan. The MUN novice delegates-turned MUN club leaders welcomed 22 students into their opening club session: 11 girls and 11 boys, a remarkable feat in a country where girls are extremely underrepresented in educational programs. A “What is MUN?” session was held, and our club leaders began to review the basics. Again, with the collaborative support of their network of students, they began to teach their new club members. We asked them to share their thoughts on the early development of their club.

MUN Afghanistan_Meeting 1
The first MUN club meeting in Kabul

We asked the Kabul Club leaders a few questions on the set up of their MUN program, their goals, and what they hoped to see in the future.

Who are the students in the new club and how are they selected?

Sulaiman: All of the students who are participating MUN club are selected from Skateistan students-they are top students at Skateistan. For them MUN was something new as it was for us. Most of them found it really effective for them , as some of them said  ” this will help me to achieve my future goals.”

Meeting 2_1

Rahmat:  The students who are participating in the MUN Afghanistan club are all from different ethnicities,  but most of the students are from poor families.They are studying but they are also working, but all of them are creative minded children. The reaction when we select them for the class was that they couldn’t even believe that they will be included in this project because. There are very few organizations which are providing international opportunity and MUN is that kind project; they all were so excited and the good thing that we found from their enthusiasm was their hard work in the class to make the most of the opportunity.

Was it hard for students at first?

Sulaiman At first it was hard for students to talk and take part in class activities and after the second session we saw a big difference in their abilities as they were more confident and they started dreaming of becoming leaders.

How did you see them change?

Rahmat: They all are trying to achieve the opportunity so they all are trying. At first they were a bit shy but now they all trying to take part in the class, and are all trying to be the best and to be the top of the class.

What are the goals of the club?

Rahmat: The ultimate goal of the club is to make a place for the club as an organization where we would be able to hold an MUN conferences, film festival and Leadership conferences inside the country and to invite worldwide students to Afghanistan. The objectives are

• First we need to start the program in one or two schools. • Send some of the students to THIMUN Qatar festivals. • Make a core of MUN specialists. • Find some people to help us to make a separate place for the project.

Sulaiman: Our goal is to make this club wider in Kabul first and then in the provinces. So overall our goal is to promote it to an organization like Thimun Qatar. It is only possible to work hard and get support of some governmental and non governmental NGOs to help us develop our program.

Meeting 3
Meeting 3

The THIMUN Qatar office is thrilled to be supporting these young delegate-turned leaders, and look forward to future participation by Afghan students in our programs.

Club Leader, Rahmat, meeting up with Alain Medinger, Co-Chair of the THIMUN Foundation
Club Leader, Rahmat, meeting up with Alain Medinger, Co-Chair of the THIMUN Foundation, at the recent THIMUN Qatar Northwestern Film Festival. Rahmat’s film, Afghan Children, was nominated in the category of Best Sound.







“And the winners are…..” A recap of the THIMUN Qatar Northwestern Film Festival

Plans-AwardsIt has been a great three days here at the THIMUN Qatar Northwestern Film Festival. The event started with Doha’s worst sandstorm in recent memory, but ended with all the glitter and pomp of a gala evening befitting the nominated directors in attendance.  Nineteen films were nominated in the categories of Best Sound, Best Poster, Best Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Story, Best National Film, Best Junior Film, and of course, Best Picture. There was also a People’s Choice Award, which was determined by the number of votes at the Gala Dinner plus  the number of hits on the film’s YouTube channel.

The Film Festival, now in its sixth year, is a partnership between Northwestern University Qatar and THIMUN Qatar. The goal of the event is to promote the work of aspiring young film makers and to provide an opportunity to come together in Doha to attend film workshops and activities and participate in the Gala evening. The directors of the nominated films came from afar as Ecuador, Taiwan, Afghanistan, India, Singapore, The Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates. as well as from here in Qatar. The event has grown in international prestige and has attracted a wider scope of films than in past years.

Nominated Directors at the Gala Evening
Nominated Directors at the Gala Evening

The Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony was organized by the THIMUN Qatar Film Festival Executive Team, led by President Mohammed Al Malek. The students were responsible for planning the events, workshops and associated activities during the three day event.

We will be profiling each of our winners on the blog over the next couple of weeks, but for now, here is a quick list of the 2015 Film Festival Winners.

BEST FILM: Cyber Bullying, By Barnady Duffy

Best Editing: Safe Driving Saves Lives, By Charlie Cracknell

Best Sound: The Tipping Point, By Dulshan Jayasekera

Best Story: Hands of a Woman, By Miguel Andrade

Best Cinematography: Blind Owl, By Ibrahim Furkan Ozcan

Best Junior Film: Ek Kahaani, By Mahima Singh & Sneha Srinivasan

People’s Choice Award: Sincerely Bahadur, By Mohammed Ali Faisal

Best National Film, By Sana Al-Ansari

Best Poster: What Do I Desire, By Naseh Jrab


Film Fest : A dusty day one

Nature was not particularly kind to participants on day one of the THIMUN Qatar Northwestern Film Festival. So what do visiting student directors do when Doha comes to a grinding halt, most things are closed, and you need to stay indoors?  You do what most folks in Doha do. You hit the malls!! And that is exactly what our Directors did!

Villagio Mall


Villagio Mall, where skies are blue!
Villagio Mall, where skies are blue!
Laser Tag
Laser Tag
abhay and rahmat
TQ’s IT guy, Abhay, and Afghan Children’s Director, Rahmat
Break time at the Islamic Museum of Art
Break time at the Islamic Museum of Art

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Charlie, Director of Safe Driving Saves Lives, applies some creative energy to the dusty grass outside the Islamic Museum.
Charlie, Director of Safe Driving Saves Lives, applies some creative energy to the dusty grass outside the Islamic  Art Museum.

The Film Festival is back on track tomorrow with the Desert GoPro Challenge. Watch the blog for updates!

AISMUN 2015 Recap

AISMUN in Cairo is one of the oldest THIMUN-affiliated conferences in the Middle East. The MUNification press team at American International School, led by Malak Sekaly and Sara Elmessiry, gives us this recap of AISMUN 2015.


This is now the 25th consecutive year that students will proudly add ‘attending AISMUN’ on their list of high school memories. The American International School of Egypt established AISMUN in 1991; since then it has grown to be the largest student-led organization in AIS as well as one of the most respected conferences in Egypt and the Middle East. The Model United Nations is much more than an extracurricular activity people participate in for the mere purpose of having a more impressive college application; MUN is a lifetime experience that truly does develop valuable skills. AISMUN’s essential purpose is to give high school students a glimpse of the real world. We here at AIS strive to create high school graduates who are critical thinkers and visionaries.

Christopher Hitchens once said “The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks”. This is exactly what AISMUN offers its participants: a chance to think outside of the box of conformity and conventionality. With eight wonderful forums, a well-organized secretariat, and an astonishing media team, AISMUN offers an experience that people cherish. I can undoubtedly speak for almost everyone who’s attended AISMUN before and say that it’s truly one of the best experiences high school has to offer.


The theme of AISMUN this year is liberty, independence, and the transfer of powers within nations. Our slogan is Spreading the Wings of Freedom. All forums have collectively chosen to discuss topics and issues that coincide with the theme and emulate the slogan. With issues ranging from the GA’s “Rise of violent actions against Islam and Arabs” to the discussion of the Ukraine conflict in the Security Council, AISMUN truly does have much to offer.

The Secretary General and everyone participating in this AISMUN conference hopes to see possible solutions to the wide range of issues at hand. For years now AISMUN has been a THIMUN affiliated MUN conference. Undoubtedly, this is something everyone at AIS takes pride in. There are countless prestigious conferences around the world that are affiliated with THIMUN such as Berlin MUN, Rome International MUN, and St. Andrews MUN. Keeping AISMUN amongst such respected conferences is something we strive to maintain. There are many great benefits to being a THIMUN affiliated conference. Firstly, assistance is offered from the THIMUN office in the setting up and organizing process. Also, it provides accreditation from the world’s foremost international Model United Nations. And it provides the opportunity of sharing knowledge between great minds of both teachers and students.

AISMUN Jr committe

One might wonder what the purpose of MUN is. There are innumerable benefits. Pages and pages couldn’t do justice to the extent to which MUN is beneficial. MUN promotes interest and support for working later for the United Nations. It also promotes interaction and dialogue between young people with different nationalities, cultures, and perspectives, which allows for wonderful exposure of people from around the world. One of the main keys of success is allowing for different perspectives to work with one another. One resolution is not the same as many resolutions merging together to offer the best possible solutions. Hence, MUN truly does tackle the significance of the formation of decisions based on global perspectives.

Another great benefit of MUN is that it brings to light many important issues and conflicts that people often neglect. This provides participants at AISMUN with a wider scope of the world beyond rigid textbooks and fixed rubrics. No amount of words can emphasize the extent to which AISMUN is an unforgettable experience. Not only does it develop extraordinary skills that people take with them outside the walls of the forums, but it also brings people of different mindsets and perspectives together and offers the chance to merge such different mindsets together to form outstanding solutions to prevalent issues.

One can never put the memorable experience MUN offers into words and so it is important for everyone to join an MUN conference and witness it first-hand. As Deputy President of the International Court of Justice at AISMUN, I can speak for myself and for everyone else and say that I am proud to be a participant in the American International School of Egypt’s 25th Model United Nations conference.

Leadership Posts Announced for TQ 2016

THIMUN Qatar is pleased to announce its leadership positions for 2015-2016


THIMUN Qatar Conference

Secretary General:

Adeeba Ahmad, Qatar Academy

Deputy Secretary General: Thushan Puhalendran, Doha College



Deputy Secretary General: Ola Al Tai, Qatar International School

Deputy Secretary General: Sana Zehra, DPS Modern Indian School

Deputy Secretary General:  Salah Mahmoud, Qatar Academy

President of the General Assembly: Christopher Nasrawi, Park House

Deputy President GA:  Dana Al Shamlan, Qatar Academy

Deputy President GA: Jassim Abel, American School of Doha

Head of Press:   Hannah Akhtar, Qatar Academy

Head of Admin: Mahum Mujeeb,  Qatar Academy

Head of IT:  Pending


Qatar Leadership Conference

Secretary General: Razan El Kalhout, Qatar Academy

Deputy:  Nadia Bahemia, Doha College

Deputy:  Aaser Sadek, Qatar Academy

Deputy: Lama Ahmed, American School of Doha

Deputy:  Vaidehi Viswanath, Qatar Academy

Deputy: Jacob Bulbul, American School of Doha

Head of Admin: Reem Addam, Qatar Academy


The THIMUN Qatar office is located at Qatar Academy. The QAMUN club, close to 150 students strong, is an integral part of the THIMUN Qatar support network, and as such, are mentioned below.

QAMUN President: AbdulRahman Al-Mana

Deputy President: Tartelle Altigani

Deputy President: Aaser Sadek

Deputy President: Reem Al-Khori

Outreach Coordinator: Nour Ahmed

Public Affairs Coordinator: Diya  Gokulakrishnan

Deputy Public Affairs Coordinator: Soyeon Ju

Head of JrMUN: Ahmed Al-Hajari

Head of Arabic MUN: Dana Al Shamlam

QA Action Co-Presidents:  Dania Nasir and Sarah Al Ani

Congratulations to all our student leaders and for epitomizing the best in THIMUN’s student-centered philosophy of active, student leadership.

‘Empowering today’s youth….shaping tomorrow’s leaders’






Before the memory fades…my reflection on TQ2015

As the office transitions into Film Festival mode, the MUN storeroom is finally organized, and the QLC venue is fully booked, I thought it was time to add my own personal reflection on the conference that was THIMUN Qatar 2015. With hardly a moment’s downtime since Mike Lee, PGA of the conference, brought down that final gavel and the skateboarding divas made an appearance in Education City during Cultural Night, it has been hard to catch my breath and think too deeply about the amazing events that transpired the first week of February. I seem to keep coming back to words like ‘magical’ to describe this event. So I’m going to try and capture the magic, before it fades too far away.

First, a small disclaimer. One day, when my MUN days are behind me, I will write a book on the ‘behind the scenes’ drama that takes place at a big conference like THIMUN Qatar. Yes, they were there, causing stressful moments, fearful moments and downright anger.  The pulling of the HRC issue on Baluchistan was the public drama, but there were behind the scenes dramas too. But these account for a tiny fraction of my THIMUN Qatar experience.  Some day, I WILL write this book, and it will be a good one!

MUN Afghanistan_Meeting 1

But today, a group of five THIMUN Qatar 2015 delegates started the first THIMUN club in Afghanistan. And the events that made THIMUN Qatar so special were epitomized by 22 Afghan delegates and their five teachers, getting their first orientation to MUN on a cold afternoon in Kabul, seemingly worlds away from the state-of-the-art Qatar National Convention Center. Anyone who seriously loves MUN will understand that in fact these are just two sides of the same coin. It’s about power and connection: feeling empowered and knowing there is strength in collaboration.  The THIMUN philosophy epitomizes this. THIMUN Qatar’s delegates, student officers, ADMIN, Press, IT, and Executive team prove time and again that this isn’t some abstract theory. Read the THIMUN Qatar blog these past weeks, and you will understand.

Here are some of my magical moments at THIMUN Qatar 2015:

Qatar Foundation’s HR Department: SHOUT OUT to the guys that got everyone their visas…the last one secured as he was on his way to the airport the day before the conference. That’s a 100% success rate, folks!!  If you got a visa through our office, it is time to give thanks where thanks are due! Thank you Mr Al Suwaidi and Mr Salem Al-Marri. Thank you for making dreams come true.

Qasemi Delegation Opening Ceremonies: The color! The pageantry! Angelika Kuster’s artful hand, and Head of Admin Maisha Loveday’s attention to detail resulted in our largest Parade of Nations ever, and it was impressive! In case that wasn’t enough to get you in the mood, it was quickly followed by a moving keynote by Peter Dalglish, an incredible performance by the American School Band and Choir (who sang an utterly amazing rendition of Famine Song), and the Shell representative making his opening remarks and giving a shout out to his own daughter, an MUN delegate in the crowd.

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 Osama Ghani: Osama and I have taken quite the MUN journey together. That’s another blog post, but I was very proud to see my Secretary General making his very moving opening speech. But I never did get to meet his parents 🙁


The Secretariat:  Boring. No Story. No drama. No stress. No mess.  And for the record, I DO consider this a magical moment. I love you guys! Thanks for keeping the conference humming quietly along in spite of the broken copy machine, which leads me to….

Photocopying Angels: Abhay and Bonaficio, who stayed up half the night at Qatar Academy and got all the resolutions printed on time. While this certainly was not magical for our IT coordinator and QA photocopying technician, it WAS like magic to see those thousands of pages of resolutions sitting at the door of the office early Thursday morning. Magical and miraculous.

Arabic Committee: This was a THIMUN Qatar first, and one that was both a challenge to bring to fruition but one that ultimately showed the true potential of Arabic language MUN. Each and every delegate in that committee should be proud for making history. I certainly was very proud  of them. A very special hat tip to TQ’s Arabic Consultant, Nabilla Elassar, who made this committee happen.


Director’s Training Institute: Seeing a room full of teachers acting as delegates acting as students is great. KFC from Best Delegate did a great job in helping teach MUN to teachers who were interested in getting a deeper understanding of the MUN program. They had an awesome debate on drone technology the following day. We’ll be holding this again next year. It was a great success.

group work Gloria

TQ-Afghanistan ‘Press Conference’: A lot of tears were shed in room 102 as the delegation representing Djibouti shared their Kabul to Doha journey, supported by their friends and online collaborators who stood behind them, literally and metaphorically, every step of the way. For many this was the most emotional moment of THIMUN Qatar, making today’s MUN meeting in Kabul today even more special. This delegation touched people’s hearts and brought the conference together as a community. It was magic.

The Delegationthe team

My mom: Yes, my mother attended her first MUN conference. She came all the way from California for the event. I understand she spoke to at least half of the THIMUN Qatar crowd. That’s what half the THIMUN Qatar crowd tells me. it was great to have her here 🙂

Gerry and Ugbad

Closing Ceremonies: Too many wonderful moments here, but having the Afghan Delegation on the stage with their ambassador to Doha was as amazing as DSG Shahd’s closing speech. Both were amazing and very moving.


Cultural Night:  I got on a skateboard. YES!  I did, kindly helped by Skateistan’s Talia Kaufmann. My daughter got some skateboarding lessons from Mursal and Madina. (Thanks to Beruk for bringing the extra board!) The John Burrough’s students got ‘hennaed’ (not a real word) and some Palestinian delegates from the special OMUN delegation shared their culture in an impressive display of folkloric dancing. Tariq arranged for the falcon, and lots of good music and hot tea were enjoyed by all at the heart of Education City. It was a good, good night.

150206_Friday_35652OMUN gang


 There’s another book I want to write, but that is the one I will carry in my heart and cherish for as long as I live..the private and not so private stories of transformation and empowerment that THIMUN Qatar has brought to individuals. If you have made it this far and are nodding in agreement, you will know I am speaking to you! Whether through Facebook or Blackboard Collaborate, via email or Whats App, via face to face interactions at the reflection pool or in the TQ office surrounded by enthusiastic students, this is what gives meaning to my THIMUN Qatar memories. It’s not just delegates who are grateful for being part of THIMUN Qatar 2015. I am very VERY grateful too.


Travel to another world: US Delegation’s visit to THIMUN Qatar

Joshua Kazdan was part of the John Burrough’s delegation, travelling all the way from the United States and for most, making their first visit to the Middle East. Joshua shares this moving piece about the difference, and most importantly, similarities, the delegation experienced while in Doha.


Fourteen hours across four continents brought this year’s Burroughs delegation to its unprecedented destination: Qatar.  Traditionally, our school has always attended THIMUN in the Hague, but this year, Director of Student Activities Andrew Newman spearheaded an effort to expand the school’s global connections.  Burroughs is in the middle of a radical reform movement focused on the promotion of cultural tolerance and diversity.  The departure from our routine journey to Europe marks another level of this initiative.  “We’re going global,” said headmaster Andy Abbott.


This untraditional travel decision presented unexpected experiences to delegation members  “You can’t ride camels and hold falcons in the Hague!” said one student.  Most of the participants had never experienced a Middle Eastern country before, and doing so remodeled our perceptions of Islam and the Arab world.  Perhaps the most reforming experience involved spending an afternoon on a dhow boat cruise with the Afghan delegation.  Despite shared interests in television programs and sports, the maturity and worldliness of the Afghan delegates soon became apparent.  Already at ages seventeen and eighteen, these students had struggled to voice their beliefs, transcending fear and adversity to attend the conference.  These students already stood for something, and conversing with such inspiring characters proved a humbling experience for me.

The conference itself also presented new opportunities that challenged us to negotiate cultural differences.  When do we shake hands with members of the opposite genders?  How do we disagree respectfully?  As a member of the press team, I had to walk a sensitive line between objective accuracy and subjective opinion, always ensuring that inferences were drawn without biases.  However, a sense of unexpected similarities pervaded the conference, overshadowing minor differences.

Overall, I think that the students open-minded enough to travel with the Burroughs delegation developed a more accurate perception of Muslim countries than that which our media delivers to us.  Qatar represents a juxtaposition of tradition and modernity– a country striving to preserve its cultural origins while transitioning into a global economic powerhouse.  Unlike many citizens of other countries, Qataris have a strong sense of identity, purpose, and national loyalty.

Since returning to America with this more nuanced view of the Middle East, we have faced a new challenge– articulating what we have experienced so that it may benefit and inform others.


Film Festival Updates: Best National Film Nominations

The THIMUN Qatar Northwestern Film Festival is pleased to announce the nominations for Best National Film.

FF logo

And the nominations are:


Learning to Dare, by Ward Ayan

Sincerely Bahadur, by Mohammed Ali Faisal

The Tipping Point, by Dulshan Jayasekera

Al-Yateem, by Ali Mahmoud

If They Only Knew, by Sana Al-Ansari