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UAE — a global force in promoting tolerance

Tolerance is the only way forward for communities and nations of the world to prosper.

In 2018, the Year of Zayed prompted the UAE community to reflect upon the vision of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founding Father of our Nation, as well as its legacy through the UAE’s incredible achievements since the country’s foundation in 1971.

It was only natural that President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan declared 2019 as the Year of Tolerance, as it upholds tolerance as the most important ingredient that empowers cultures and helps communities thrive and economies prosper.

In this very spirit instilled by our forefathers, I am proud to say that the UAE community is a true melting pot of tolerance, cohesion, respect and acceptance of the other. Its model has stood the test of time and made the UAE a global model for cultural understanding and cooperation.

Tolerance isn’t just synonymous with respect, it also means acceptance and appreciation of the diversity of our world’s cultures. It is the catalyst that opens people’s minds to understanding others and embracing our differences so we can complement each other and contribute towards a common greater good.

As we gear up for Expo 2020 Dubai, due to start in less than one year’s time, the Year of Tolerance serves as a reminder that nations built on values of tolerance, love and respect are those that can achieve lasting peace, security and stability in their development journeys.

The fact that 192 countries have confirmed their participation to the global event already makes it the most inclusive and international Expo ever organised, and is a true reflection of the UAE’s role in bringing nations together under one umbrella to nurture peace through cultural and commercial exchanges.

The UAE government has been even more pro-actively promoting tolerance since the appointment of a Minister for Tolerance who proposes policies and initiatives that encourage cultural understanding and provide opportunities equally and without prejudice. Earlier this year, Abu Dhabi witnessed the first visit of a Pope in the GCC to a warm welcome from non-Muslims and Muslims alike, during which Pope Francis headed a historic open-air Papal Mass.

Coinciding with the International Day of Tolerance on November 16 and representing a cornerstone of the inaugural Tolerance Week, Dubai will be hosting the second edition of the World Tolerance Summit in November, an event that brings together government leaders, key figures from the public and private sectors, peacekeeping ambassadors and change-makers from across the world to discuss the importance of tolerance, peace and equality, and celebrate diversity.

Tolerance isn’t just synonymous with respect, it also means acceptance and appreciation of the diversity of our world’s cultures. It is the catalyst that opens people’s minds to understanding others and embracing our differences so we can complement each other and contribute towards a common greater good.
- Tariq Al Gurg

Society is getting unequivocally more diverse, as it has never been easier to travel around the world, work abroad and even live in a foreign country for long periods of time. Small immigrant populations settle down and slowly create a support system for their community to grow into large diasporas that thrive across generations. Some would adopt their host country to the point of not even wanting to return to their homeland.

The UAE is such a host country. In Dubai last year, it was estimated that expatriates from all over the world accounted for around 92 per cent of its 3.2 million population. As a result of hosting more than 200 nationalities, we live in an extremely diverse society, wherein one single school classroom could include children from over ten different nationalities.

The education system has had to adapt accordingly to ensure that children from very different cultural backgrounds can coexist together in a classroom and benefit from learning material that is relevant to all, while staying true to the local specificities of the UAE.

The UAE government has demonstrated its determination to use education as a means to teach the merits and spread the values of tolerance among the youth and future generations, with the ultimate goal of creating tolerant communities and enabling global peace.

Our country’s schools are an amazing reflection of what our society is; all children discover each other’s cultures and traditions in an educational and recreational context and in the process, they learn that we are all not so different and that we all share similar dreams and aspirations.

It brings me joy to see my daughters interacting with their peers from all corners of the world and sharing their diverse views and beliefs. It also makes me so proud to see such multiculturalism in my country which excels at promoting social and cultural exchanges as well as tolerance among schoolchildren. I am confident that this international environment is shaping my daughters to become global citizens.

The spirit of tolerance is not only restricted to the education sector. It has also impacted the global humanitarian development and assistance.

In 2015, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, established the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI), combining under its umbrella more than 30 humanitarian and developmental initiatives and entities.

The Foundation’s humanitarian, social and development initiatives and entities are primarily devoted to supporting and empowering vulnerable and disadvantaged communities around the world. MBRGI truly reflects the spirit of UAE’s tolerance and compassion. Thanks to its various humanitarian initiatives, MBRGI has reached over 70 million beneficiaries in 86 countries in 2018.

Dubai Cares shares the same determination in all its initiatives, whether through its support of underprivileged children and youth in developing countries, or people of determination in the UAE and abroad. Our education programs contribute to global stability, prosperity and peace.

Our community engagement initiatives such as the Walk for Education, Volunteer Emirates or Volunteer Globally engage thousands of UAE volunteers and constitute a vibrant demonstration of inclusion and cooperation.

Such domestic dedication to global humanitarian causes shows a genuine positive image of the UAE throughout the world, and demonstrates our nation’s steadfast commitment towards international peace and stability, which are important conduits for sustainable development.

The UAE has become a global leading force in openly promoting tolerance through all layers of its incredibly diverse and multi-cultural society, and spares no effort in multiplying and diversifying initiatives to spread awareness and keep its population engaged and committed to this cause.

We are proud to play our part and contribute to this societal progress that will ultimately benefit all people of the UAE and the rest of the world. Tolerance can become a genuinely global value, embraced by all, but the world as we know it today needs to change. Let’s give all children the best start in life and make sure they have what it takes to be that change.

Source: https://gulfnews.com/opinion/op-eds/uae--a-global-force-in-promoting-tolerance-1.67749778