UAE's tolerance model has 'potential to become a global movement for good': Sheikh Nahyan


by Muhammad Aamir

ABU DHABI, 1st April, 2019 (WAM) -- Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, has hinted at the UAE's model of tolerance becoming a "global movement" for good, saying that the model has the potential to transcend national borders.

He believes that the UAE provides the perfect breeding ground for the cultivation of tolerance, adding that the 'Year of Tolerance' will be a triumphant year as it "raises" the attitude of tolerance from the level of passive endurance to the higher level of active virtue.

In an article titled '2019 Year of Tolerance' published in 'Yalla,' an Abu Dhabi-based Phoenix Media & Publications' magazine which has a yearly circulation of over 80,000, the Minister wrote about 'Year of Tolerance' and 'Year of Zayed,' and outlined the role of his ministry, which he noted is the only Tolerance Ministry in the world.

Sheikh Nahyan, noting that President Sheikh Khalifa had declared 2019 as the 'Year of Tolerance,' pointed out that it follows 2018's Year of Zayed that marked the birth centennial of the UAE's Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. "The tolerance of Sheikh Zayed distinguished his leadership," he wrote, adding that Sheikh Zayed had warmly welcomed talented and ambitious people to the UAE irrespective of their nationality, ethnicity, gender, net worth religious or philosophical beliefs.

"He sheltered them safely under a welcoming Arab tent," Sheikh Nahyan said.

"Sheikh Zayed made the UAE a stunningly diverse nation," Sheikh Nahyan continued, mentioning that in the UAE, people from some 200 countries live and work together in peace.

"To ensure such harmony in the UAE, the government established a Ministry of Tolerance," the Minister declared, adding that its role was to promote and nourish tolerance in the country, and seeks to explain the meaning of the 'Year of Tolerance.' Tolerance is certainly an attitude and arguably a virtue, but tolerance is not a natural state, according to Sheikh Nahyan, who explained that, at its most basic level, tolerance motivated him to put up with people different from him.

"I say nothing and do nothing even though other people may disagree with me, irritate me, or displease me," the Minister asserted, noting that the same people may regard him as such, and they also say nothing.

"We demonstrate tolerance. We do not threaten or harm one another. Our mutual silence allows us to coexist," he said.

He also said that basic tolerance helps governments maintain law and order, and exercise their power effectively, noting that "The UAE Ministry of Tolerance aims to nurture that potential power."

"The UAE's model of tolerance has the potential to transcend national borders and become a global movement for good," he added.

The Ministry advocates a tolerance that encourages and enables people to engage people different from themselves, to imagine their feelings, thoughts, and experiences to understand each person as a unique individual to develop a sympathetic consciousness of the concerns of other people, he further noted. "Empathy and compassion arise from an honest and respectful dialogue," the Minister said.

Noting the different nationalities living in the country, "all of whom are different and unique," Sheikh Nahyan said, "The Ministry of Tolerance is, among many other actions, demonstrating the beneficial power of tolerance in a programme that intends to touch our youth and by extension the entire UAE population."

The Ministry has led three groups of young men and women from diverse national and religious backgrounds in a study of the complexities of six practices and attitudes that emanate from a spirit of tolerance. "We believe that the study of empathy, compassion, dialogue, conflict resolution, resilience, and teamwork will prepare those young people to become effective advocates for tolerance," the Minister of Tolerance explained.

"We have designated them 'Champions of Tolerance,' the Minister said, and their mandate is to initiate discussions with other groups of diverse young people around the country.

"It is our belief that the ensuing conversations will reinforce tolerance in the consciousness of the nation and inspire complementary actions in families, schools, universities and businesses," Sheikh Nahyan added.

In his article Sheikh Nahyan also referred to the recent visit of His Holiness Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church, and His Eminence Dr. Ahmad el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar, to the UAE, and the joint declaration issued after their historic meeting, which noted "positive steps taken by our modern civilisation."

Around the world, Sheikh Nahyan concluded, "There exists both a moral deterioration that influences international action and a weakening of spiritual values and responsibility. The UAE believes that acts motivated by the virtue of tolerance will slow and perhaps reverse such moral deterioration. The virtues of tolerance have the power to create safe, secure, peaceful, and prosperous communities and societies. The UAE's model of tolerance has the potential to transcend national borders and become a global movement for good."

WAM/Ibrahim Shukralla/Esraa Ismail