'Openness is rooted in UAE's culture'
Reem Ibrahim Al Hashemi, UAE Minister of State, Director General â?? Bureau Dubai Expo 2020 and Board Representative of Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee
The UAE has been ranked first in the region and third in the world on the Tolerance Index of the 2016 Yearbook issued by the Switzerland-based International Institute for Management Development (IMD) on the occasion of today's International Day for Tolerance.
"The UAE's performance in the Tolerance Index reflects the extent of tolerance, understanding and openness enjoyed by all who live in the UAE, as more than 200 nationalities live in the country in acceptance and understanding," said Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemi, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Chairperson of the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority. "The UAE has long played a leading role in the fields of the cultures and religious dialogue without discrimination as well as the regional and international role played by the state in the renunciation of violence, extremism, hatred, and contempt of others."
Speaking on the occasion of International Tolerance Day, Minister of Community Development Najla bint Mohammad Al Awar said: "Tolerance is a noble value, one that is rooted in the culture of the UAE and established by our country's founding father, the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, as a principle of government.
"It is this form of tolerant government that has made the UAE a global role model for tolerance, coexistence, moderation, respect, and acceptance of others intellectually, culturally, and religiously," she added. "The UAE has always been a pioneer in disseminating the values of peace and tolerance between different cultures and religions. And it continues on the same path, guided by its wise leaders, as every one of our laws seeks to enshrine respect for all members of society, indiscriminately."
As evidence of the work the UAE's government has done to promote tolerance, Al Awar pointed to the establishment of a ministerial post for tolerance - the world's first - as well as the establishment of the Global Initiative for Tolerance and Mohammed bin Rashid Award for Tolerance, which seeks to find role models for tolerance among Arab youth and encourage cultural and media efforts to establish these principles among all segments of society.
Al Awar's thoughts were echoed by Saqr Ghobash, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, who said that "the UAE has always remained true to those values through the development of national legislations and the launch of initiatives to support them, which have made the UAE an incubator and a magnet for job seekers from around the world who come here looking to make a decent living in a safe environment.
"The UAE's commitment to the protection of human rights is also manifested by the signing of several international agreements in support of the fight against forced labour, equality between working men and women, the protection of juveniles from hazardous work, and other labour-related issues," he added.
In the UAE, The National Tolerance Programme, led by the Minister of State for Tolerance, will work to promote these values and develop the structures necessary to ensure their sustainability and nurture human beings.
The Minister of State for Financial Affairs, Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, for his part, said the establishment of a Minister for Tolerance was the culmination of years of effort which began in the time of Shaikh Zayed.
"We instill tolerance and generosity as fundamental values of our society. In fact, these values are part of the UAE's Constitution, which outlines the need to adopt the principles of mutual respect with all institutional operations and individuals, as well as promoting equality before the law, and practising freely the rights of one's religion and faith," he added, noting that the constitution also outlines the freedom and rights of all residents as per all international agreements that call for tolerance, co-existence and non-violence.
As part of it's Tolerance Programme, the UAE government has identified seven unique "pillars of tolerance", each of which play an important role in promoting tolerance: Islam, the UAE Constitution, the legacy of Shaikh Zayed, International Conventions, Archaeology and History, Human Nature, and Common Values.
Additionally, the UAE has identified five 'themes' of the National Tolerance Programme, each of which has a subset of initiatives and programmes from various parts of the UAE's government.
For example, one of the themes - the promotion of tolerance among youth to protect them from fanaticism and extremism includes the 'Tolerance Leaders' Summit' that brings together the leaders of the social media sector and distinguished youth, column writers and those who will help spread the values of tolerance as well as the development of a cartoon character that represents the values of tolerance in TV cartoon series targeting children and in printed children' literature, and the creation of a 'Tolerance Volunteer Association' that will focus on promoting communication among the various communities in the UAE.