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  Middle East & Africa
UAE Proclaims 2019 as the Year of Tolerance
His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of UAE

The government of the United Arab Emirates officially proclaimed 2019 as the Year of Tolerance. His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates issued the announcement with the aim to enhance the international role the UAE plays as a capital of co-existence, acceptance of others and openness to other cultures. It follows and complements similar announcements made over the past two years, whereby 2017 was the Year of Giving and 2018 was the Year of Zayed.

Tolerance is a virtue and an intrinsic part of the Islamic culture. It is observed at all individual, organizational and national levels. With over 200 nationalities living peacefully and successfully in the UAE, the Emirati society has been an undisputed example of tolerance and inclusiveness. Based on the values of the late Sheikh Zayed, the UAE has become a hub of religious tolerance, hosting forums on religious tolerance and dialogue. The country has thus become home to hundreds of cultures, religions and creeds where each individual freely practices his beliefs and safely enjoys cultural activities.

In implementation of the announcement, focus will be on the tolerance within the community, to promote the values of tolerance among family members, and to consolidate them among different cultures, activating the role of community centers across the country to promote tolerant and cohesive societies. Emphasis on tolerance in education will solidify the teachings with regard the values of tolerance within educational systems – across schools and universities – within the UAE.

Likewise, the initiative aims to create a safe, tolerant, and cohesive workplace across public and private sector institutions and organizations, via educational programs that highlight equal opportunities for all. The emphasis will also be on cultural tolerance through the promotion of intercultural communications, considered the main objective of this announcement, and through the launch of a variety of events and programs celebrating over 200 nationalities residing in the country, and enhancing interactions between these communities via the arts and culture sector. The final objective of the announcement is to establish the UAE as model of tolerance for other nations to follow. It seeks to reinforce the status of the UAE as a global capital for tolerance, through a series of initiatives and projects that feature and reinforce tolerance and dialogue between various cultures, religions and civilizations.

The Year of Tolerance will materialize through legislative and policy goals that emphasis the values of tolerance. The Supreme National Committee for Tolerance will work on developing the policy, legislation and executive regulations that guarantee the sustainability of values and lessons behind tolerance, dialogue, and cohesion among cultures, including a law on multiculturalism. This will be accompanied with a media role. The media is one of the most important tools in the dissemination of the values of tolerance and co-existence via targeted media campaigns and projects, as well as promoting the UAE as a model of tolerance across mainstream media channels and social networking sites.

In the words of His Highness President Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, 2019 is a continuation to the late Sheikh Zayed’s approach, a fundamental value in the building of community and stability of nations and happiness of the peoples. He added that, the most important thing that should be inculcated in our people is the humanitarian values and legacy of Sheikh Zayed and the consolidation of the principle of tolerance to future generations.

Likewise, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, asserted that the main objective of the Year of Tolerance is to enhance the global role that is played by the UAE as a capital of co-existence of civilizations and to instill the values of tolerance in UAE citizens as intended and meant by the late Sheikh Zayed.

In a tweet following the announcement, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, said: “With Khalifa's announcement of 2019 as the Year of Tolerance, we recall the great heritage that Sheikh Zayed founded on tolerance and today characterises UAE's diverse society. The world today needs universal human values to be promoted for the sake of future generations”.

The importance and value of tolerance does not stop at the simple individual ties among people as tolerance is considered an urgent community need and a platform for all human communities. Tolerance in the UAE is based on seven pillars.

They are Islam, the constitution, the legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed and good morals, international conventions, heritage and history, human nature and the UAE’s participation in the international values and principles that embody the concepts of respect, tolerance, coexistence and coherence, being a member of the international community. The country is proud of its Islamic values that call for the respect of people from all faiths and beliefs. Tolerance as a value is reflected in the Islamic teachings that adhere to respect of others, anti-hatred and anti-extremism.

Tolerance is considered a pre-requisite for the continuation of the human civilization as well as its evolution. The Year of Tolerance is an excellent opportunity for the UAE to share its successful experience in tolerance with others. This will allow the world to see what was achieved in this area by the UAE.

In early 2016, the UAE created a cabinet ministry on tolerance for the purpose of driving policy conducive to social good and satisfaction. To promote tolerance, the UAE appointed His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan as Minister of State for Tolerance. In the words of Sheikh Mubarak, “creating this ministry is part of giving form to a fundamental principle underlying the evolution of the UAE itself since its birth in 1970s. Among the main values supporting the UAE is respect for other civilizations and cultures. The UAE has always sought to strengthen the bonds of friendship and affection among people”. It launched the National Tolerance Programs and passed against discrimination and hatred.

Thus, the UAE is credited for being the first nation to conceive such a ministry. In November 2018, Dubai hosted the World Tolerance Summit. The Summit attracted regional leaders and national figures. The recent visit of Pope Francis to the UAE on February 4th, 2019 reflects the country’s commitment to religious tolerance. The Special Olympics World Games will be by Abu Dhabi in March 2019, as another occasion to highlight that tolerance is about inclusiveness and embracing differences. The UAE will be a global coordinator for cooperation within a new Global Tolerance Alliance to promote acceptance around the world.

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