2017 was the Year of Giving, 2018 was the Year of Zayed, and now 2019 has been declared as The Year of Tolerance in the UAE by HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Emir of Abu Dhabi and the eldest son of HH the late Sheikh Zayed on Saturday. The Year of Tolerance will be an extension of the Year of Zayed, a 12-month period that celebrated 100 years since the birth of the UAE’s Founding Father.
Through year-round initiatives and policies, the UAE aims to instill the values of coexistence and peace in local, regional, and international communities. “The Year of Tolerance will be celebrated as a national effort towards further advancing a decades-long dream of creating a tolerant and cohesive society, open to peoples of varying cultures and religions from around the world,” said Sheikh Khalifa.
Echoing on his statement, HH Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE’s Armed Forces added: “With Khalifa’s announcement of 2019 as the Year of Tolerance, we recall the great heritage that Sheikh Zayed founded on tolerance and today characterizes UAE’s diverse society. The world today needs universal human values to be promoted for the sake of future generations.”
The announcement came days after it was revealed that Emirati singer Hussain Al Jassmi will become the first Arab star to sing at Concerto di Natale, the Vatican’s annual Christmas show, on December 15, a sign that the UAE is tolerant and welcoming of all faiths. 2019 is set to kick off with the visit of Pope Francis who will hold a Papal Mass in Abu Dhabi in February, a landmark mass that is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of Catholics in the UAE during his first visit to the GCC.
The Year of Tolerance will focus on five main pillars. The first will be to increase the values of tolerance and co-existence by focusing on instilling these values on the youth. The second pillar seeks to solidify the UAE as the global capital for tolerance, by way of a series of initiatives and projects. Building tolerant communities via a host of cultural programmes and events is the third pillar. The fourth pillar focuses on policy-oriented initiatives surrounding cultural and religious tolerance, and finally, the fifth pillar aims to boost co-existence via the media.
The UAE has been advocating for co-existence for some time now. In 2016, the Gulf nation became the only country in the world to introduce a ministry and minister for tolerance, appointing HH Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi as the Minister of State for Tolerance. Additionally, on the 22nd International Day of Tolerance (November 16), HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, renamed the iconic pedestrian bridge over the Dubai Canal to Tolerance Bridge.