The show picks a controversial motion and invites one speaker from each side that debate for and against. Each speaker talks in front of a live audience for three minutes and is then questioned by the chairman before the debate opens up to the audience and a final electronic vote.
“Debate is about challenging people with ideas and information, why they have committed the action and why they deserve to have your vote,” said Tim Sebastian, founder and chairman of the show, in Ramallah. Sebastian is perhaps best known for being host of the BBC interview show “Hardtalk” and has also founded “The Doha Debates.”
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The show is encouraging the public to get involved, either by submitting fact-based corrections, suggesting speakers and topics or volunteering to speak. Anyone can submit a question to the website or interact via its Facebook page or Twitter.
“The New Arab Debates invite a new generation to get involved in politics - to discuss the issues that affect their lives, suggest solutions, hold politicians to account and help shape history,” describes the website. “We are there to make news and enact change.”
The show is streamed on the website and translated in both Arabic and English. Earlier in 2014 the TV-team brought the debate to Amman and Tunis, discussing for example the motion “Egypt is a disappointment to the rest of the Arab world” and in Tunis: “what is more important, freedom or money?”