I would like to thank Unipath for extending this kind invitation to me. I believe the magazine is an important platform for dialogue and exchange of opinions and ideas and am pleased about what our discussion today represents. It clearly reflects the strong friendship and important ties between the United States and the UAE. These ties are based on mutual respect, cooperation and joint action for the benefit of all. I am also pleased to talk about tolerance in the UAE and its unique model that includes the Ministry of Tolerance, the only one of its kind worldwide. The model also includes the declaration that this year — 2019 — is the Year of Tolerance.
Our founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, taught us that tolerance means living in peace with others, getting to know one another and correcting misconceptions about each other. In doing so, he called on everyone to understand the positive relationships among all cultures and faiths, with robust pride in national culture and identity. In the words and actions of Sheikh Zayed, tolerance allows all inhabitants of this good earth to contribute positively to the progress of society so they can play an important role in communicating the UAE’s message of tolerance and coexistence to the world. In a region full of instability and sectarian conflict created by exclusion and extremism, the UAE has become a destination where everyone lives peacefully and earns a decent living. People from different countries and sects live in the UAE, some of whom fled ethnic and sectarian conflict in their homelands. They have found themselves making friends with people from other sects whom they had considered enemies back home, because they have learned to live amid the tolerance and peace they found in this blessed land.
Therefore, we are keen to establish ties of cooperation and joint action with all regional and global stakeholders and organizations. We are fully committed to working with everyone to spread knowledge and awareness of different civilizations, cultures and religions. We are committed to conveying the UAE’s message to the world in preventing extremism, racism, hatred and terrorism, as well as combating all forms of segregation and discrimination. We view this as a foundation on which positive international relations are built and as an effective point of entry for involving everyone in achieving world peace.
Our successful experience in the UAE confirms that tolerance and coexistence in society require numerous factors, the most important of which are: informed and wise leadership and a tolerant population that desire to achieve human social and economic progress associated with tolerance. In addition, it requires successful educational and media institutions, appropriate legislation, and institutional solidarity, both public and private, to combat prejudice and extremism. Other factors include respect for others, universal coexistence and upholding humanitarian values and principles we all share as inhabitants of this world.
I always say that tolerance in the UAE is a living embodiment of the teachings of Islam and is also a natural extension of the nation’s history, heritage and its prominent geographic location, which has made it an important transit point for civilizations and cultures throughout the ages.
In the UAE, tolerance means living in harmony with others and respecting their beliefs and culture. It is the conscious realization that pluralism and diversity, as characteristics of the population, are a source of strength for human societies.
In the UAE, tolerance is a powerful expression, from the leadership and the people to the consummate desire for everyone to live a dignified life.
In the UAE, tolerance is not only a moral duty, it is also a fundamental tool for inclusive and sustainable development, and it grants the opportunity for everyone to contribute fully to society’s progress.
In the UAE, our experience with tolerance has made combating extremism and radicalism the responsibility of all — community and institutions. Our experience also indicates that affirming the role of tolerance in the fight against terrorism requires extensive international and regional cooperation. Encouraging tolerance must always be part of a larger system to combat global terrorism. I would like to also emphasize that using religion as a cover for violence or to spread hatred in society is completely unacceptable.
The visit of Pope Francis and Grand Imam of Al Azhar Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, at the gracious invitation of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was by all accounts historic. It provided an effective framework for building international relations and partnerships based on strong moral foundations to achieve progress, prosperity and peace.
We are totally confident that the Declaration of Human Fraternity from Abu Dhabi is, God willing, a good start for affirming the role of human fraternity in spreading the values of global peace. This includes the role of human fraternity in achieving safety and security in the global community, the pursuit of human happiness, securing the planet’s future and protecting the environment, and spreading humanitarian values. It also has a role in eliminating poverty and disease worldwide.
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan
Minister of Tolerance, United Arab Emirates