The UAE is incredibly diverse. It offers so much in terms of culture to anyone wanting to explore Emirati tradition. And that’s what makes this country unique and desirable for many. His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE declared 2019 as the Year of Tolerance. The announcement was made at the World Tolerance Summit 2018 in the presence of various national and regional dignitaries.
What Is the Year of Tolerance?
The purpose of the Year of Tolerance 2019 is to raise the UAE’s prominence as a global frontrunner for acceptance and coexistence.
“We want the UAE to be the global reference point for a tolerant culture, via its policies, laws and practices,” H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid
This theme of tolerance is a homage to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s legacy, stature and principles of forbearance, open-mindedness and concomitance.
In simple words, the Year of Tolerance means to inspire and promote religious, racial, communal, cultural, sectarian and political tolerance within the country. The UAE plans to achieve this through comprehensive laws, policies and practices directed towards creating an all-encompassing tolerant culture.
The Pillars of Year of Tolerance UAE
There are seven main pillars of this year’s theme of tolerance. The UAE government aims to deepen the values of tolerance among its people through a specific focus on fostering:
- Tolerance in the community, by encouraging greater acceptance among family members and creating a safe environment for different cultures to dwell together in harmony.
- Tolerance in education through cultivating the important values of tolerance into young minds by incorporating them in the curriculum.
- Tolerance at workplaces via educational programmes that instil the values of cohesive, safe and tolerant workplaces across the country.
- Tolerance in culture by celebrating this 200-nationalities strong multicultural land with programmes, events and promoted art to build stronger communities.
- Tolerance in legislation through policy development aimed at enhancing the sustainability of mutual dialogue, tolerance and multiculturalism.
- Tolerance in media by introducing targeted media projects and campaigns for reinforced values of coexistence.
- The UAE model of tolerance with the help of projects and initiatives that uplift the country as the global capital for tolerance.
The Year of Tolerance Activities and Initiatives
Even though the Year of Tolerance 2019 has just been introduced, country-wide initiatives promoting tolerance in the UAE are frequent. It only goes to show the dedication of the UAE towards the cause. Here are some highlights of these initiatives.
The Minister of Tolerance
The UAE appointed its first Minister of State for Tolerance in February 2016. This appointment was prompted by the 12th Ministerial directives and changes in the federal government introduced by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The Ministry’s primary objective is to support the State’s stance and efforts towards consolidating the values of pluralism and tolerance. The ministry endeavours to establish intellectual, cultural, religious and ethnic harmony at local and regional levels. Following the ministerial formation in October 2017, H.H Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan assumed the position of Minister of Tolerance. He replaced Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi who served the office before him.
In June 2016, the Council of Ministers adopted the National Program for Tolerance. The program aims to portray the UAE’s true image of moderation and respect for all and to spread its message of coexistence and peace throughout the world.
This is reflected in a number of field initiatives taken by the government, such as the Anti-Discrimination and Hate Law. Another big milestone for the ministry was the establishment of centres to combat extremism including the International Institute for Tolerance, the Centre for Truth and the Hedaya Center for Fighting Violent Extremism.
The Bridge of Tolerance
On November 16, 2017, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum named the beautiful pedestrian bridge on the new canal in Dubai, the Bridge of Tolerance to mark the occasion of the International Day for Tolerance. This was done to highlight the value of tolerance in the UAE, a country that brings more than 200 nationalities together.
The Year of Tolerance Logo
As soon as the Year of Tolerance was announced, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum formed the Supreme National Committee for Tolerance to regulate the cause-specific local events and initiatives. This committee, chaired by H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, recently adopted the official logo for the Year of Tolerance.
The Year of Tolerance UAE, along with any governmental, private and media institution campaigns, initiatives and programs launched under its banner, will now be represented by the Ghaf Tree. The official statement from the Supreme National Committee for Tolerance stated:
“Tolerance is a universal value… and Ghaf is our national tree. It represents a great cultural value in the UAE and is associated with the identity and heritage of the country… a number of UAE rulers used to meet their citizens and listen to their demands directly under the shadows of these trees…The Ghaf tree symbolises stability and peace in the desert and has the ability to adapt in the desert… In the Year of Tolerance, we are adopting this logo that we will all remain in the shadow of tolerance and coexistence.”
Pope Francis Visits the UAE
Recently, Pope Francis visited the United Arab Emirates between 3rd and 5th February, 2019. This historic visit was the first of its kind for the Middle East, which set the pace for similar events in the future. As part of the Year of Tolerance initiative, the UAE will organise many events, notably the signing of the historic “brotherhood of humanity” document to promote the values of tolerance, coexistence and world peace.
The Pope’s visit lasted three days and the world witnessed tens of thousands of all people from Arab and other international communities. The event reflected an atmosphere of human love and brotherhood sending a strong message to the world on joining forces for a better future.
Dubai Expo 2020
The Year of Tolerance also promotes the goal of Dubai Expo 2020. Building upon the theme of “Connect the Minds and Make the Future” the Dubai Expo 2020 aims to provide people with an opportunity to communicate with each other despite their different backgrounds and affiliations. This Expo aims to promote dialogue and find solutions to common global challenges through collective efforts.
It is impossible to achieve all that without tolerance, openness and respect that surpasses the superficial barriers of race, religion and differences of opinion. The focus of the exhibition is to adopt the approach of tolerance in line with this year’s theme and promote this culture worldwide while hosting Dubai Expo 2020.
Special Olympics World Summer Games
The Special Olympics World Summer Games were held in Abu Dhabi this year between March 14 and March 21, 2019. Over 7,000 athletes from all over the world took part in the event. This was the first time these Special Olympics Games were held in the Middle East. This only goes to add another feather in the UAE’s cap for embracing differences and empowering people of determination with sports, regardless of where they come from.
Further Initiatives to Promote a Culture of Tolerance
With the first quarter of the year 2019 ending soon, the UAE is only warming up to accomplish its goal of being the torchbearer of hope, love and acceptance in the world. Apart from the aforementioned activities for the Year of Tolerance, the UAE government has several other similar projects in the pipeline. The most prominent ones include:
- The construction of UAE’s first Hindu Temple on a 13.7-acre land in Abu Mureikheh. The groundbreaking for this project will take place in April and the temple is expected to be completed by 2020.
- An increase in nation-building events that encourage cultural intermingling and awareness among people. Part of these initiatives would pertain to augmenting the reach of nationality-based events such as the Emirati-French Cultural Dialogue and UAE-China Week.
The UAE has presented a living model for the world as a tolerant nation with rational leadership. The message is clear. There is an increasing need for coexistence and harmony globally. To fulfil this, it’s important to strengthen human relations and strive for world peace.
Are you an expat living in the UAE who is thoroughly impressed by its people-friendly and tolerant culture? You’re not alone. There are thousands of people like you living here who are witness to all the reasons the UAE is an awesome place for expat women, men and families!
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