Expo 2020 Dubai: How UAE became a global hub for tolerance

Expo 2020 to tell nation’s story of being a happy home to 200+ nationalities


Anjana Sankar

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Performers during Egypt National Day Parade at Expo 2020 Dubai. — Supplied photo
Performers during Egypt National Day Parade at Expo 2020 Dubai. — Supplied photo

Published: Mon 15 Nov 2021, 11:36 PM

The UAE is the global capital of tolerance — and Expo 2020 is sharing with the world its unique story as a country where 200-plus nationalities live in peace, a top official said in an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times.

As the world observes International Day of Tolerance today, Expo 2020 is joining the celebrations by showcasing the universal power of working together for benefit of humanity, said Maha Al Gargawi, senior vice-president for political affairs at the Expo.

“Dedicating one of our theme weeks to promoting greater common understanding and active participation amongst nations, businesses and our visitors was a natural fit,” Gargawi said.

The Tolerance and Inclusivity Week — which runs from November 14 to 18 as part of the People and Planet Programme — will host a series of events aimed at promoting equality, religious tolerance and multiculturalism.

One of the key events is the launch of the Global Tolerance Alliance. Spearheaded by the UAE Ministry of Tolerance and Coexistence, the alliance intends to build a community of nations dedicated to the shared aims of tolerance, pluralism, and mutually beneficial coexistence.


“Tolerance has been deeply rooted in the fabric of the culture, heritage and traditions of the UAE, since its founding in 1971. Following the visionary leadership of its Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE has been dedicated to enhance the principles of tolerance, coexistence, fraternity, hope and joint action in the country, the region and worldwide,” said Gargawi.

The President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, proclaimed 2019 as the ‘Year of Tolerance’, highlighting the country as a global capital for peaceful coexistence.

“It is a vision and a mission that the UAE continues to nurture and encourage,” she said.

Walking the talk, the UAE has become the first country in the world to introduce a ministry dedicated to promoting tolerance as a national policy.

The post of the Minister of State for Tolerance was introduced in 2016, reinforcing the UAE’s commitment to eradicating ideological, cultural and religious bigotry in the society. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi was the first the Minister of State for Tolerance. In the Cabinet reshuffle of 2017, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan was appointed Minister of Tolerance.

In the past two years the UAE has welcomed the Catholic Church’s Pope Francis for the first-ever papal visit to the country; signed the ‘Human Fraternity Document; started building the interfaith complex Abrahamic Family House; and inked the Abram Accords, which normalised diplomatic relations with Israel.

In June 2021, the UAE was ranked among the top 20 countries in the world in eight indexes of competitiveness related to tolerance and coexistence, according to data issued by the IMD Business School, the Legatum Institute, and Insead.

Tolerance and Inclusivity Week: What’s in store for visitors

Maha Al Gargawi said Expo 2020 is an example of inclusivity in action, mirroring and enhancing the UAE’s commitment to peace, harmony, respect and acceptance of others.

“It is dedicated to bringing together people, communities and nations to build bridges, inspire action and deliver real-life solutions to real-life challenges,” she said.

“Destined to be one of the most inclusive World Expos in history, Expo 2020 has invited everyone to be part of these conversations.”


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