The nation embraces the value of dialogue, cultural existence and co-existence among residents of different faiths
The UAE has long established itself as a nation that embraces diversity, boasting a safe environment for family-friendly living, as well as business and investment opportunities. It is among the few countries that offers a secure platform for people of different nationalities and faiths to thrive in. This was further cemented with a nation-wide theme, the Year of Tolerance in 2019. The introduction of such a theme, announced by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is to position the country as a role model for harmonious diversity. It further weaved the universal concept into the nation’s legislation and policies, and to date, the UAE continues to embrace the value of dialogue, cultural existence and co-existence.
Looking at UAE and India ties, in particular, the UAE had provided land to build a traditional Hindu temple, the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Sanstha (BAPS) Mandir in Abu Dhabi, during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official visit to the UAE in 2015. Under the observation of the Year of Tolerance, the UAE further allocated 14 acres of land in 2019. An official stone laying ceremony took place in early 2019, in the presence of thousands of NRIs who consider the UAE a home away from home.
This year, despite the recent pandemic, the UAE were quick to implement several strategies that would allow people of various faiths to continue their religious duties in a safer environment.
According to Lalit Karani, who represents the Mercantile Community of Thatta (Sindh), Shrinathji (Krishna) Mandir Dubai, authorities had a set of guidelines in preparation to re-opening places of worship.
“After the lockdown, the Community Development Authority (CDA) called for a meeting of all religious heads, and guidelines were issued for opening of the mosques, temples and other religious places to avoid the further spread of Covid-19. Entry to the temple was restricted to 30 per cent with two darshan (prayers) in a day. Prayer timings were also reduced to 30 minutes each, with social distancing of two metres. Thermal cameras were also installed to check people visiting the temple premises. A team of dedicated volunteers ensured people wore masks and gloves. Further, the temple premises were sanitised after every prayer. A big round of applause for the local authorities, volunteers and our devotees who helped us to maintain discipline and order,” he said.
The opening of yet another Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi, shows how deep UAE-India relations are. The bilateral relations are well known for their trade, and now with the opening of this temple, it will further cement ties. The temple is expected to be a unique monument, inviting tourists from all over the world.
The UAE has kept an open-door policy, inviting cultures from across the world. The philosophy of tolerance and co-existence of all faiths and races has been the essence of the UAE rulers. The Shrinathji Temple (Shri Krishna Temple) is one such example. There are records of its existence since 1935, but many locals believe it has been there since 1902. Al Kabeer Mosque and the Krishna Temple have co-existed side by side since then, maintaining peace and harmony. This is yet another example of tolerance initiative.
“This is our 74th Independence Day where we remember the sacrifices made by our great people for the freedom of our country. Let us Indians celebrate with thorough enthusiasm and bring everyone together under this tricolor,” Karani added.