Last year I was privileged enough to travel with an amazing group of students from ISC Cairo to Dubai to take part in the biannual Sabis© Stars Contest. It was a blast. More importantly, it was a chance to see if the intense training that I had given to both the debate team, as well as the public speakers, would pay off. It did. I have seldom felt so proud as I did watching how all the students performed.

The debate team didn’t make it to the final round – but were just beaten to it by the sister school “6th October” who were then out gunned by the Lebanese team. In my opinion ISC Cairo deserved to win because they out performed everyone present. Unfortunately – the judges did not agree, and seemed to have somewhat of an uninformed judging criteria – but hey….I don;t want to be a sore loser. The difference, I felt, that ISC Cairo brought to the contest was major. Nadine, Naela, and Zein were professional, to the point, calm, and collected. They were passionate when they needed to be, and expressed themselves with native levels of English articulation throughout their presentations. The thing i felt they did best though, was listen.

The Debate Team – Nadine, Zein, and Naela

Listening is the key to debate. We studied this in our practice sessions and they mastered it. Listening enabled them to argue, not just to speak. They tore apart the arguments and points put forward by their challengers, time and time again. The response? All too often there was no response, because the opposing side was unable to produce a comeback, unused to having their arguments analysed and rebutted so critically.

Unfortunately, it did not prove enough for the judges – but they walked away the winners in the hearts of most of the audience present.

One person that did make the final was Farrah Abbas. Farrah was chosen alongside fellow ISC Cairo student –  the formidable speaker Habiba Salama. Habiba, who deserved  a place, unfortunately did not make the final round, but shone all the way through the knockout stages.

Farrah blew me away with her performances. To be fair, she was is a natural speaker. If anything, my training with Farrah was more about the technical skills of storytelling and making a crowd warm to you – she already had everything else.

Farrah speaking during the knockout stages.


When it came to the speech, she was amazing. Although I knew how nervous she must have been, it did not show. Her poise was perfect, her tone sublime, and her content was moving and logical. Farrah is the kind of speaker that corporations will benefit from. She commands respect when she speaks and knows how to convince a crowd. The one thing that stole the title from her was something we had discussed many times – and for the first time in the competition, Farrah had forgotten to add it to her talk: the anecdote. The winner of the competition, Osman Khan from the school in Pakistan, used it well – and with the exception of that tiny, but majorly important aspect of the final speech, was the only real competition for Farrah. Congratulations to all the contestants and to Sabis© for putting on such a wonderful contest.

Osman Khan’s speech is below.