UAE sends message by declaring 2019 Year of Tolerance

When the United Arab Emirates speaks of tolerance, it speaks from experience – more than 200 nationalities enjoy a decent life and respect in the UAE.
Wednesday 19/12/2018
A view of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. (AFP)
A view of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. (AFP)

The United Arab Emirates’ proclamation of 2019 as the “Year of Tolerance” confirms the commitment of this pioneering Arab country to a noble principle that is crucial to the progress of any nation and its ties to the world.

Established by a decree issued by UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the Year of Tolerance establishes the UAE as a global capital for tolerance and affirms the value of it through a set of legislative initiatives and policies aimed at deepening the values of dialogue and openness to different cultures and instilling them in the minds of new generations and society in general.

When the United Arab Emirates speaks of tolerance, it speaks from experience. It has endeavoured to nurture the values of peace, dialogue, security and multiculturalism. More than 200 nationalities enjoy a decent life and respect in the UAE.

The number of churches and temples in the Emirates confirms its spirit of religious tolerance. Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan ordered the Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Mosque in al-Mushrif District in Abu Dhabi to be renamed “Mariam, Mother of Jesus” Mosque.

The UAE has begun the Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Award for World Peace to give shape to Islam’s teachings of tolerance and to illustrate the values of forgiveness and moderation. The award plays a role in creating channels of communication with all people of the world and strengthens international relations for world peace.

Roman Catholic Pope Francis in February will be the first pope to say a public mass in the Arabian Peninsula. In addition to the mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, Francis is to visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

In May 2014, Coptic Pope Tawadros II presided over the first mass said in an Arab country at Saint Anthony’s Cathedral in Abu Dhabi. He inaugurated the Church of the Virgin Mary in Sharjah and visited Sheikh Zayed Mosque, praising the value of tolerance rooted in the UAE’s leadership and people.

Among Emiratis, tolerance is a way of life initiated by UAE founder Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan. His sons and followers carried on his legacy and Sheikh Zayed’s values and teachings have become a cultural, civilisational and humanitarian model.

The United Arab Emirates is a standard of tolerance, peaceful coexistence and openness to the “other.”

Sheikh Mohammed stressed that societies based on the values and principles of tolerance, love and coexistence are the ones that can achieve peace, security, stability and development in all aspects and raise the aspirations and achievements of their countries in their journey towards the future. He pointed out that the UAE model of tolerance is based on the values of love of good for all, togetherness, cooperation, generosity and equality among all human beings.

The strength of the UAE model is all the more impressive because of the context of regional and international conflicts fuelled by chauvinism and religious fanaticism. This is especially evident in ideologies adopted and defended by countries that do not hide their sectarian designs in pushing hegemonic agendas or in voices that instigate sedition and chaos using tribal or regionalist instincts, to revive the dregs of the past and tear countries and communities apart.

The establishment of the Ministry of Tolerance in the United Arab Emirates in 2016 was a one-of-a-kind initiative. It is the best expression of the ideas and concepts stated by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, which stress the need to establish tolerance, rejection of extremism and openness on cultures and peoples as a general societal orientation involving all parts of society, including the public and private sectors.

Sheikh Mohammed called on the United Arab Emirates to lead the way in creating intellectual, cultural and media productions that consolidate the values of tolerance and openness in the Arab world and the region.

“What we can be proud of and boast about is not how tall are our buildings or how wide are our streets or how huge are our malls. It would be how tolerant the Emirates are,” he said.

In declaring 2019 a year of tolerance, the United Arab Emirates is a welcome trendsetter for international and regional peace and coexistence.