Tolerance from the UAE to the world
The nations of the world are now on a race for supremacy with intolerance being the name of the game. Unhindered, this could lead to the collapse of nations.
By Roopa Kurian (Different Strokes)
Published: Mon 28 Jan 2019, 8:11 PM
Last updated: Mon 28 Jan 2019, 10:14 PM
Much has been written about tolerance, especially with the year 2019 being declared the Year of Tolerance in the UAE, and the much anticipated visit of Pope Francis on February 3. But when tolerance is so deeply engrained in a culture, it is but natural to recognise it officially.
Tolerance is not just a word here, nor a proclaimed value, it is a way of life accomplished through actions and celebrations. The country is, in fact, a living example of the principle. A melting pot of cultures may sound clichéd, but that is precisely what it is, with a high diversity of nationalities residing in peace and harmony enjoying equal rights. Transparency and honesty are the cornerstones of the nation's policies while acceptance and understanding are the core values of the society. It is the openness and exposure to so many cultures and the leadership's wisdom in understanding and accepting them that had enabled the nation to flourish and become a global destination and the business hub of the Middle East. And by being a barrier to prejudice, it has brought people and the community together.
It is heartening that this country, only the 115th largest in the world, hosts people from over 200 nationalities; and all of its 85,600sqkm is home to these people. The country in itself is a showcase of its values of inclusion and coexistence with its countless mosques and Islamic centres complemented by Christian churches, Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples, a Sikh Gurdwara and most recently a synagogue.
The UAE's claim to fame does not rest just on the tallest, the biggest, and the largest; it is rightly now in a position to be called a global leader in tolerance. In 2016, it became the only country in the world to introduce a ministry and minister for tolerance with the proclaimed values of multiculturalism, culture of acceptance, and rejection of attitudes of discrimination and hatred. Continuing the legacy of its founding father, late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan- a firm opponent of harsh dogmas and intolerance - the UAE believes in resolving disagreements through dialogue and agreement, remarkable traits in a world characterised by heightened tension and increased divisions.
It is also inspiring that in the midst of strife, hatred, radicalism and non-inclusion, the UAE has a law which fights discrimination against individuals or groups based on religion, caste, doctrine, race, colour, or ethnic origin. The Anti-Discriminatory Law passed in 2015 provides a solid legislative ground for tolerance, co-existence and acceptance, taking the concept of social security to a new level.
The papal visit, the first ever to be made by the Head of the Catholic Church to the Arabian Peninsula on the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, is based on the thinking of Sheikh Zayed that the UAE welcomes the help of "talented and ambitious men and women of sound moral character irrespective of their nationality, religion, culture, ethnicity, or economic status." Let the visit be an inspiration to nations around the world to nurture tolerance, encourage empathy and compassion, and ensure dialogue essential for the human fraternity. And let the nation be the alternative, future-oriented model that it hopes to be by supporting moderate Islam, empowering women, embracing diversity, encouraging innovation and welcoming global engagement. For, the nations of the world are now on a race for supremacy with intolerance being the name of the game. Unhindered, this could lead to the collapse of nations. Under such circumstances, it will be the supreme voice of tolerance propagated by nations like the UAE that will stand out.