UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (UAE) President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has declared 2019 as Year of Tolerance.
His declaration is aimed at highlighting UAE’s approach in bridging communications between peoples of different cultures thriving in a respectful environment which rejects extremism and emphasizes acceptance of others.
It’s in honor of and a tribute to the founding leader of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to continue his legacy among his people and the world.
In a statement sent by the UAE Embassy Manila to SDN — Scietech and Digital News, it was learned that the Year of Tolerance focuses “on deepening the values of tolerance and co-existence among cultures, solidifying the UAE as the global capital for tolerance through a series of initiatives among various cultures and civilization, implementing multiple cultural programs, and making contributions to building tolerant communities, on legislative and policy-oriented objectives that contribute in mandating cultural and religious tolerance via dialogue and on promoting tolerance through targeted media initiatives and projects.”
Two leaders of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (left), Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE, Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Defense, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, flank His Holiness Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church on the second day of the Vatican leader’s visit to the UAE in February. They are standing for UAE’s National Anthem during a reception at the Presidential Palace. (Photo: Rashed Al Mansoori / Ministry of Presidential Affairs)
Emirates home to over nine million expatriates
Major events that are in harmony to this year’s UAE theme include the historic visit of Pope Francis to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member-State on February 3 to 5, and the hosting of the Special Olympic Games on March 14 to 21.
Pope Francis’ visit to the UAE marked the first time a pontiff came to the GCC. He made another first, first-ever to offer a papal in the peninsula, where Islam took its roots in what is now Saudi Arabia. Aside from UAE and Saudi Arabia, the other members of the GCC are Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman.
The Special Olympics World Games also marked the first one in the Middle East/North Africa, and described as the “largest humanitarian and multi-sport event in 2019.” An estimated over 7,500 athletes coming from more than 190 countries across the world converged in the UAE for the Special Olympics.
It is not surprising the leadership of the UAE proclaimed 2019 as Year of Tolerance, especially that it hosts millions of expatriates working on its various industries. Around 1.2 million expatriates are of the Christian faith who come from India and the Philippines.
UAE’s top four expatriate communities, based on new figures, are India with some 2.62 million; Pakistan, 1.21 million; Bangladesh, 706,000; and the Philippines, 530,000.
The rest are from Egypt, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China, and other countries, making a total of of around 9.4 million foreigners.
Thus, the GCC country “has always championed the values of tolerance and multiculturalism, rejecting discrimination and hatred by adopting nationwide programs in partnership with various local, regional and international bodies.”
For the Special Olympics World Games 2019.
In 2013, Emirate nationals accounted for 1.4 million.
Sheikh Zayed’s legacy of tolerance lives on
“Today, the UAE serves as home to more than 200 nationalities living in harmony with laws that guarantee residents, similarly to nationals, to enjoy the right to use the state’s healthcare, educational, cultural and entertainment facilities without any discrimination,” the UAE Embassy said.
President Sheikh Khalifa noted that tolerance is a legacy of the founder of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and reflects the vision of UAE’s founding President.
“Instilling values of tolerance carries on Sheikh Zayed’s legacy. It is one of the most important attributes that we can give to our people and the global community to ensure their safety, stability and happiness,” the UAE President said in December 2018 during the declaration of 2019 as Year of Tolerance.
It can be recalled that in 2016 the UAE proclaimed 2017 as Year of Giving, anchored on “three main axes: social responsibility, volunteering, and serving the nation.” It also reinforced “one of UAE’s core national values — of humanitarianism and generosity.”
The Year of Tolerance extends the Year of Zayed to uphold the values of tolerance and co-existence” which the late founder established among the UAE people.
UAE’s present top diplomat in the Philippines is Ambassador Hamad Saeed Al Zaabi.
UAE is a federation of seven emirates, such as (in alphabetical order): Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Qaiwain.
The UAE was founded on December 2, 1971. (EKU)
Images courtesy of the UAE Embassy Manila.