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The UAE is officially celebrating the values and
meanings of tolerance in 2019, to establish its status
as a global capital for tolerance and a nurturing
environment for the diverse cultural backgrounds living
and working peacefully side by side in the country.
The announcement from the UAE’s wise leadership of
2019 as the Year of Tolerance invited all people,
organisations and government entities to accept the
values of tolerance in all aspects of their lives,
actions and activities. It presents an opportunity for
the country to strengthen its role as a world model of
harmony, respect and acceptance within a framework that
formally supports and consolidates these progressive
The idea of tolerance is deeply rooted in the fabric
of the culture, heritage and traditions of the UAE, a
society that derives its priorities from a combination
of its Islamic religion, centuries-old authentic Arab
customs, as well as the teachings and wisdom of the
nation’s blessed founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin
Sultan Al Nahyan, consolidating the pillars of goodness
on which the country was established.
The UAE has established itself as a bridge of
communication between the peoples of the world and,
since its establishment, has created an open, respectful
environment that rejects extremism and promotes cultural
Religion has been touted as a
major reason for discord amongst the world’s peoples.
Yet, in a highly significant start to the Year of
Tolerance, the UAE warmly welcomed the leader of the
Catholic Church, Pope Francis, in a historic, first ever
papal visit to the Gulf region. The Pope arrived on
Sunday 3 February for a three-day UAE Year of Tolerance
event, which included the joint signing of a Human
Fraternity Document with Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, Grand Imam
of Al-Azhar, which “invites all persons who have faith
in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work
The country is home to over 200
nationalities, more than 40 churches of different
Christian denominations, a Sikh temple and several Hindu
temples. Construction of a major new Hindu temple in Abu
Dhabi is underway and expected to be complete by 2020.
Simple yet symbolically strong,
the leaves of the evergreen Ghaf form the official logo
for the UAE Year of Tolerance. The Ghaf is the UAE’s
national tree, a true survivor in the face of fiery
temperatures, searing winds and harsh desert conditions.
Even during long, dry periods, the Ghaf spreads out its
lush green canopy, generously providing shelter and
shade for all.
For thousands of years, people have
gathered under Ghaf branches to discuss their views and
debate daily matters. The tree is a symbol of tolerance
and coexistence, long associated with the heritage and
community approach of the country.
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