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Every year, the UAE announces a national initiative for the country to follow and celebrate. This week, President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan announced 2019 as the ‘Year of Tolerance.’

2019 will be the ‘Year of Tolerance’

In many ways, the UAE has been a role model to the world for showcasing tolerance among people of all kinds. The Federal UAE Government says the society is an “undisputed example of being a tolerant and inclusive country,” for being home to more than 200 nationalities. The national initiative will place importance to “promote acceptance and understanding as core values of the society.”

Law in effect to promote tolerance

Sheikh Khalifa issued a federal decree in 2015, ‘Combating Discrimination and Hatred’ as a “solid legislative ground” to protect people in the UAE by promoting tolerance. Under this law, anyone who expresses hatred or insult about a religion through social media, books or speech is punishable. The law also prohibits meetings and conferences that serve a sole purpose of discrimination, as well as financial activity towards such activities.

Landmark visit by Pope Francis

In line with the national initiative, it was earlier announced His Holiness Pope Frances will make his first ever visit to the Arabian Peninsula. Francis will be attending an interfaith meeting, which goes by the theme “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace” in Abu Dhabi from 3rd-5th February. The meeting’s purpose is to seek dialogue about “how all people of goodwill can work for peace.”

sheikh mohammed bin zayed and pope francis
Photograph credit: Wam

‘Year of Tolerance’ built on five pillars

From youth involvement to nation-wide projects and policies, the national initiative will focus on five main pillars:

-To deepen the values of tolerance and co-existence among cultures by teaching the youth the values of tolerance

-To solidify the UAE as the global capital for tolerance through a series of initiatives, projects and dialogues between various cultures and civilisations

-To implement multiple cultural programmes and make contributions to build tolerant communities

-To focus on legislative and policy-oriented objectives that contribute to mandating cultural and religious tolerance via dialogue

-To promote tolerance through targeted media initiatives and projects.

National initiative inspired by Sheikh Zayed’s values

Upon the declaration of 2019 as the ‘Year of Tolerance,’ His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE believes tolerance is an “inherent feature” among Emiratis, inspired by the values of UAE’s founding father, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. He said, “Brothers and sisters… The president of the UAE has issued a proclamation next year 2019 in the United Arab Emirates for Tolerance… In order to strengthen the global role played by the state as the capital of coexistence and civilized convergence. And the consolidation of this value which Zayed wanted is an inherent feature of the Emirati society.”

sheikh zayed
Photograph credit: Wam
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