UAE built a civil society that passes Mahatma Gandhi test: Sheikh Nahyan

While unveiling a bust of the Indian freedom fighter, the Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence drew parallels between the ideals of Gandhi and UAE’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed


Nasreen Abdulla

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The unveiling of the bust of Mahatma Gandhi at Indian Consulate Dubai on Jan 31, 2023. Photo: Rahul Gajjar
The unveiling of the bust of Mahatma Gandhi at Indian Consulate Dubai on Jan 31, 2023. Photo: Rahul Gajjar

Published: Tue 31 Jan 2023, 4:50 PM

The UAE has built a civil society that passes the test of Gandhi, according to Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE's Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence. His comments came during the unveiling of a bust of Indian freedom fighter Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi, at the Consulate General of India in Dubai.

Business leaders, religious figures, envoys from various countries and members of the Indian community attended the event which drew parallels between the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi and the UAE’s founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

“Gandhi’s thoughts of leading a diverse population remind me of the Sheikh Zayed’s conviction about the establishment of a culture of tolerance and passion and dialogue in the UAE,” said Sheikh Nahyan. “Peaceful coexistence was at the core of Sheikh Zayed’s inner belief. Peaceful means were essential to achieving his objective of achieving a prosperous and harmonious society.”

After his speech, Sheikh Nahyan in the presence of India’s ambassador to the UAE Sunjay Sudhir and Consul General Dr Aman Puri unveiled the bust.

Gandhi’s teachings

Trained as a barrister and having practised in South Africa for over two decades, Gandhi became popular for his ideals of non-violent protests to meet political and social means. Revered as the Father of the Nation, Gandhi was at the forefront of India’s struggle for independence from the British.

“Mahatma Gandhi represents the ethos of India,” said Sunjay Sudhir, ambassador to the UAE. “His teachings are more valid today than his times because today the need for non-violence, harmony and tolerance are greater.”

Measuring 42 inches and made out of bronze, the bust was a gift by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) to the Consulate General.

“This bust will be an opportunity for us to remember his [Ganghi's] principles of peace, non-violence, ahimsa, peaceful coexistence,” said Consul General Dr Aman Puri. “The Father of the Nation of India and the UAE had respect for the same values and this is the reason why we see a large number of Indians living here harmoniously with people from over 200 nations.”

Transcending boundaries

The event was attended by several dignitaries from various other nations. One among them was Andrew Tsepo Lebona, Consul General of the Republic of South Africa in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.

“The people here who are celebrating Gandhi were not born when he was assassinated,” he said. “But when you have visionary leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, it is incumbent on us to remember their vision and implement it.”

He also said that this was a lesson for other missions. “We need the wisdom of our older statesmen more than ever,” he said. “We have turmoil and turbulence all over the world, but here in the UAE, it is an oasis of peace where people of all nations come together in harmony.”

Razan Alsaket, who was at the event as a representative of the Jordanian consulate, said it was the perfect occasion to learn more about the leader. “I have always heard and read of Mahatma Gandhi and his ideals,” she said. "Attending this event here, I realised what a profound influence he has had not just on India but on leaders and visionaries from all over the world."


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