What Is The Year Of Tolerance?
Updated on 06 January 2019

By: Salamah Ghudayer

Each year the government selects a theme for the year in which all government departments, and the private sector try to support and connect with the public. 2018 was a very special year as The Year of Zayed, which marked 100 years since the founder of UAE was born, to honour his life and characteristics. In a way, what is being brought forward from the Year of Zayed and his fellow leaders of his time; the theme for 2019: Tolerance. Even through the history books back to stories of Sheikh Hasher in Dubai, a culture of hospitality, sharing space as dedicated society members, respect and an over all philosophy of ‘different isn’t wrong’ can be summed up from his leadership, through to the friendship between the fathers of the current sheikhs, and on into the future with all of our participation. Both the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan and the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum were raised and later raised others in their community to be open minded, understanding of others, to have decorum and be tolerant. Dubai society especially has always needed to hold these characteristics, in order to move ahead and be successful with all, for all. This is due to the business trade and port city Dubai has been through centuries and the strength of our logistics sectors from generations long gone, based on utilizing eachothers uniqueness as strengths. 

In 2016, the Ministry of Tolerance was formed, and the talented Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi was transferred to lead the ministry that would put the Emirates apart and protected from the rising ideological and racist entities which were gaining in numbers and political positions in other world regions. That is not acceptable here, even with a nearly 90% population of foreigners. The ministry also had the privilege of upholding the National Tolerance Programme and the Anti-Discrimination / Anti Hatred Law of July 2015. The law protects people based on religion, caste, doctrine, race, color and ethnicity. 

The current Minister of Tolerance is Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahayan. He has overseen the National Festival of Tolerance from which a new programme called the Champions of Tolerance was formed. Around 20 people were selected to perfect 8 skills in tolerance: perspective taking, compassion, dialogue, conflict resolution, resilience and teamwork. The champions are then to go on and promote their own goals in similar regards. Around a similar time, new curriculum was introduced nationwide regarding morals and values, which are to encourage the same topics to young students which makes for caring citizens of the world. 

These are a lot of facts and the goals sound idealistic, but it is an honour and privilege to have been working in this field for nearly 20 years at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. Formed officially in 1998, Abdullah bin Eisa Al Serkal knew that open minds and open doors, giving access to places of worship and to interact with the minority indigenous population of Emirati’s was vital to the multi-cultural nation the Emirates was becoming with so many guests flocking to enjoy a lifestyle of open-mindedness creating security and comfort to all. Yet matched with hard work and dedication to which Dubai has always known, made founding the Centre here, in his growing hometown a calling that could not be left to chance. Almost daily someone in the Centre is saying, “we have the mosque, the church, the temple, the club, the gym…but once you set foot on the sidewalk you don’t effect or harm the others you see for the choices you make nor for theirs. We strongly believe in collective security, self-respect and caring for others.”

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