Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues (Print ISSN: 1544-0036; Online ISSN: 1544-0044)

Research Article: 2021 Vol: 24 Issue: 6S

The United Arab Emirates as a Leading Country in Tolerance

Maryam Sultan Lootah, United Arab Emirates University


This book is discussing the roots of tolerance inside the Emirati culture and the minds of the Emirati's leadership as an important value that formed and still one of the main elements in both socially and politically aspects, the research uses the historical, analytical and inductive methods to present a realistic comprehensive view of its topic, and will also rely on the content analysis as a descriptive tool for studying the content of oral and written discourses, texts, and utterances, either in a qualitative, or in a symbolic quantitative way. The researcher concluded that the UAE was and still a leading country in spreading tolerance in both national and international sides regarding its humanitarian and political domestic and foreign policies.


Emirati Culture, Emirati's Leadership, Humanitarian, UAE


Some argue that the international system has progressively shifted to a multi-polar system after the conclusion of the cold war, despite the fact that its traits are not well defined; it lacks a single and distinct divide, and these poles signify (civilizations) from which the world is constructed (Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Islamic, Western, African and Latin American). The most likely scenario in these civilizations' interaction is confrontation, which derives from cultural identity, on which positions, interests, and blocs are created on the one hand, and rivalries and disputes on the other.

Although the United States of America, the most influential country on a global scale, originated primarily from different cultural identities, it merged and belonged to a comprehensive identity known as the "American identity," and this merger may have been influenced by force factors (political, economic, and media) on the one hand, and human inclination on the other. According to Ibn Khaldun's remark, belonging to the strongest by nature, he titled the twenty-third chapter of his introduction: “The defeated is always keen of imitating the victor in his attitude, appearance, and other situations.” Ibn Khaldun emphasizes the correlative relationship between two phenomena that belong to two different areas, despite being strongly intertwined: the phenomenon of supremacy in politics and the opposite phenomenon of imitation in the cultural-social field.

Ibn Khaldun examined the correlation relationship from the standpoint of the weaker party in the power relationship, and from there he spoke about the phenomena of imitation in the cultural-social field. This correlative relationship between the political forces and the cultural subordination of the strongest is enough to clarify the relations of political power and domination on the one hand, and subordination on the other.

It seems that the missionaries of the culture of globalization or the gradual movement of societies towards an inclusive culture have proceeded from the conviction that the culture of the stronger party imposes itself on the weaker party, regardless of the preference of this culture (Khaldun, 1977).

Based on the foregoing, states and societies are currently living in a period in which political, economic, and cultural barriers are collapsing as a result of the technological revolution and the globalization of the economy, culture, and politics, to the point where some people speak of a universal culture. While another group saw that this open global space without barriers may pose cultural, economic and political challenges, the phrase "the clash of civilizations" was put forward by Samuel Huntington in his famous book "The Clash of Civilizations... Remaking the World Order" (Huntington, 1999), although this saying was preceded by previous thinkers, Roger Garaudy referred to the clash of civilizations in passing, as a prelude to his proposition of the necessity of a dialogue of civilizations as the way out of what intellectual, religious and cultural fanaticism may lead to from Saddam and destruction, in his book: (Contemporary Fundamentals, Causes and Manifestations) (Garaudy, 2000), where he emphasized: "All fundamentalism, whether technocratic or Stalinist, Christian, Jewish or Islamic, pose today the greatest danger to the future. Their victories, in an age when we have no choice but between mutual and certain destruction and dialogue, can confine human societies to fanatical doctrines closed in on themselves heading towards collision". What govern the relationship between civilizations is (clash), this clash starts and returns based on (culture) or (identity), because the common cultural factors and differences are what shape interests, rivalries and convergences of states.

In his book "False Dawn," (Balbaa, 2000) John Jerry also warned of the effects of globalization, predicting economic, human, and environmental disasters. In response, numerous ideas were advanced that highlight the discussion of civilizations and cultures rather than their conflict and collision, and that the only way to encourage dialogue and global peace is to promote tolerance ideals. One of the most prominent writers in this context is the French writer Roger Garaudy in his book "Dialogue of Civilizations" (Garaudy, 2007).

In this context, the phrase “only tolerance is capable of ensuring the survival of mixed communities in every corner of the world” was adopted by UNESCO on November 16, 1995, as part of its fiftieth anniversary commemoration, which it dubbed the “Year of Tolerance.”(UNESCO, 2000) In light of these international conditions, which require governments and societies to promote the value of tolerance and dialogue as a mechanism to move from the scenario of a clash of civilizations to their dialogue, the UAE's efforts to promote a culture of tolerance come at both the internal and external levels.


This chapter aims to identify "tolerance" as a pivotal value in the UAE's political leadership's thinking, as well as its manifestations in public policies, whether at the internal or external levels of the UAE's foreign policy, in order to determine the decisions, initiatives, and policies that have been implemented.

This is done through the following topics:

1) Tolerance roots in the Emirati culture.

2) Tolerance in the Emirati political leadership's thought (Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan - Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan - Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum - Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed - Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak...).

3) Public policies and the centrality of tolerance value: laws, initiatives and policies.

Since public policy, whether at the internal or external level, is essentially a decision-making process, it is critical to apply this technique as the most appropriate approach in examining the principles of tolerance that characterize foreign and domestic policy in the UAE.

Although it is difficult to accurately identify the decision makers, because a direct decision maker may have been influenced by another person who is relatively far from the decision-making circle or has no official capacity at all, the decision-making approach is appropriate, especially in Arab political systems, and in the UAE's political system, given that the holders of high offices, led by the President and Vice President, as well as members of the Federal Supreme Council, constitute the first and most powerful circle in the decision-making process. This technique also sheds light on the decision maker's environment, including its economic, social, and political components, both internal and external; this environment is frequently the source of the difficulties or demands upon which the decision is made.

This method also drew attention to the central figure's involvement in decision-making in terms of the decision-maker's awareness of the environment around him, and the importance of this in the internal or external decisions he takes (Al-Manoufi, 1984).

The study will also rely on the content analysis tool when it deals with the political discourse in the UAE, to determine the position of the values of tolerance among the political leadership in thought, discourse and behavior. The content analysis tool is used to analyze the behavior of individuals and personalities, and their attitudes through the materials they write or say.

It also helps to study the attitudes and behavior of bodies and institutions. Content analysis is a descriptive tool for studying the content of oral and written discourses, texts, and utterances, either in a qualitative way, or in a symbolic quantitative way.

In the sense that content analysis aims to select its samples from the media, political, social, legal, literary or educational content, to search for the extent to which the value to be monitored in that content is received or repeated, in addition to studying the context in which that value was mentioned, given that the study of that context The content analysis process will move from quantitative analysis to a combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis (Hamdawi, 2019).

In this study, the content of the decision-maker’s political speeches will be analyzed to determine the extent to which it affirms the value of tolerance by monitoring the word “tolerance” and the vocabulary synonymous with it, such as forgiveness, overlooking, and leniency.

The First Axis: The Roots of Tolerance in the Emirati Culture

Tolerance is one of the well-established values in the Emirati culture by virtue of the fact that the UAE society is an Arab and Muslim society. The Emirati culture, with its Arab and Islamic tributaries, enhances tolerance and makes it a supreme value oriented to the behavior of the individual and the group, both in their dealing with each other, or in dealing with other cultures to which the UAE society has opened by virtue of its coastal geographic nature, and by economic activity based on trade and contact with the peoples of neighboring regions, regardless of their religions or ethnicities.

The geographical discoveries in 1992 proved the existence of a site for a Christian monastery on Sir Bani Yas Island dating back to the year 600 AD, which is a material evidence of the arrival of the Christian religion to this region (Al-Saadawi, 2019).

With regard to building churches in the Emirates, we can refer to the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Abu Dhabi, which was erected in 1965, during the reign of Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who attended this inauguration. It is reported that Sheikh Shakhbut said to a visiting priest in the early sixties of the last century: "I am sorry that there is no church for you in Abu Dhabi, you need your religion as much as we need ours" (Al-Saadawi, 2019).

Among tolerance images that the founding leader has given care since the establishment of the state, his directives in 1974, to build 3 churches to serve the Christian denominations in the city of Abu Dhabi, namely St. Joseph's Catholic Church, St. Andrew's Anglican Church, and St. George's Church of the Syriac Indians.

In the same year, Anba Basilius commissioned Father Athanasius Al Muharraqi, pastor of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Kuwait, to perform the Divine Liturgy in Abu Dhabi, and Father Athanasius then went to the emirate (Abu Dhabi) to perform the first Coptic mass in Abu Dhabi.

October 30, 1995, Sheikh Zayed received Pope Shenouda III on his first visit to the UAE and the Arab Gulf states. The delegation accompanying the Pope included Anba Serapion, the general bishop, Anba Abraham, Father Peter Bishop Bishoy, and the priest Thomas, pastor of the Dubai Church.

In 1999, the founding leader agreed to a request from the church, to allocate a plot of land for the construction of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox cathedral. Pope Shenouda presented a letter of thanks in which he affirmed his great appreciation for all the love relationships that the UAE gives to its residents, including the Egyptian Copts. In the Emirate of Dubai, Father Barnabas asked Sheikh Rashid in 1965 a space for a house of worship and it was immediately granted. At the beginning of 1966, the parish hall was ready.

The foundation stone of the church was laid by Sheikh Rashid in May 1966, and Maglicani blessed the church, then the church was demolished in 1988 to make way for a larger church to accommodate the growing number of Catholics in the Emirate of Dubai.

In Sharjah, the first Catholic church was established in 1971 and was named after Saint Michael (Al-Saadawi, 2019). The UAE society has also opened up to the owners of non-monotheistic religions such as Hindus, as the writer Abdul Ghaffar Hussein points out in one of his articles (Sherine, 2019) that the history of religious and sectarian pluralism in the Emirate of Dubai dates back to the last years of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, during the era of Sheikh Maktoum bin Hasher bin Maktoum. who took power in 1894 and died in 1906, when the market adjacent to Dubai Customs was built on the creek, which is the market called the Banyan Market, it was set up by a group of Hindus who rented shops in the market, and lived on top of their shops in rooms built specifically for housing, they built a temple to perform their religious rituals, and they rented land to cremate their dead as required by their religion. The number of churches and temples in Dubai has grown to more than 10 churches and temples for different sects of Christians, and there is also a temple for the Sikh splinter group from Hinduism.

The Banyan worked in the gold trade and owned shops in the Gold Souk neighborhood of Deira, and they had a trusting connection with the people of Dubai. Prior to the creation of banks, some Dubai residents committed their money to the Banyan. In February 1983, Sheikh Zayed also donated a block of land in Abu Dhabi's Mushrif neighborhood for the construction of a new church.

With the growth of the Catholic population in Abu Dhabi, the need for a new and larger prayer hall was felt, and after studying and obtaining the necessary permission from government authorities, the new parish center, consisting of a beautiful new church dedicated to St. Teresa of the Child Jesus, was consecrated in October 2014.

The gradual increase in the number of Catholic expatriates has positioned the UAE prominently on the world church map, and Archbishop Paul has stated on numerous occasions that during his pastoral visits to the Vatican, the Pope (Pope Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis) is well aware of the vibrant church in the country The United Arab Emirates, and they show a keen interest in its development.

In the 1960s, there was a demand for a priest to live in Dubai on a permanent basis. In 1965, Father Barnabas requested a location for a house of worship from Sheikh Rashid, which was instantly granted. The parish hall was completed in early 1966. Sheikh Rashid himself lay the church's foundation stone in May 1966, and Maglicani sanctified it. The church was then dismantled in 1988 to make room for a new church to suit the Emirate of Dubai's rising Catholic population.

In this respect, we can refer to the missionaries who arrived to the region in the first part of the twentieth century to preach and provide some health services to the locals.

Paul Harrison said in his book "A Doctor's Journey to Arabia" that he came to this region in 1919 and treated many ill cases in the Emirates of Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, and Ras Al Khaimah.

Although Harrison's goal was to preach the Christian religion by providing health care, the people of the region welcomed him and collaborated with him because they needed treatment in conditions when epidemics were spreading and health facilities were unavailable, Harrison states in his book that: “The most important thing that drew his attention on this trip was his knowledge of Mr. Nasser bin Obaid Al Lootah,” who was then living in the Emirate of Ajman with his family, and that Doctor Harrison had come to treat him for a bladder stone, but Nasser Al Lootah asked him to treat all patients in the emirate, so Al Lootah built a hospital out of palm fronds. Doctor Harrison did, in fact, treat him as well as many other patients".

Mr. Nasser Al Lootah is described by Harrison as "one of the noblest persons he encountered." His ambition to preach the Christian religion did not stop him from becoming captivated by Nasser's charisma, as well as his love of goodness and eagerness to serve others. Instead, Harrison stated in his book that Nasser was appealing to his Lord not to deprive him of the blessing of serving his servants (Farouk, 2019).

Without his human touch with Mr. Nasser Al Lootah and other people of the region, the physician and missionary John Harrison would not have learned and reported this in his book.

It should also be noted that in 1952, Dr. Sarah Haussmann founded Sharjah's first hospital, which concentrated on maternity and maternal activities. In memory of Birol and Merian Kennedy, a Canadian hospital was erected in November 1960 (Oasis). The inhabitants of the region were treated in these two hospitals, particularly in the fields of maternity and maternity, and they had a good human interaction with the medical staff.

With the establishment of the state and the opening of the UAE society to many cultures as a result of the expansion of the state's economic activity, as well as the growing proportion of expatriates to it to provide job opportunities, the UAE today embraces more than 200 nationalities and many religions and cultures that live in cultural harmony among themselves on the one hand, and between them and the Oman on the other.

It is worth noting that these communities have civil, religious, and cultural rights, especially since there are a number of social and cultural clubs for these communities in the UAE, such as the Arab Cultural Club in the Emirate of Sharjah, and cultural clubs affiliated with a number of Arab communities, such as the Egyptian Club, the Jordanian Club, and the Sudanese Club, as well as foreign such as the Indian club and the Italian club) (Hussein, 2019). Undoubtedly, the declaration of 2018 (the Year of Zayed) is an occasion not only to recall the founding leader's values and achievements, but also to instill these values in the hearts of the Emirati community, foremost among which are the values of tolerance, human coexistence, loyalty, and patriotism. These ideals continue to be fundamental drivers of the country's march to excellence, as well as its comprehensive revival and achievement in the modern era. We cannot ignore his enlightened view of Islam, and in a speech he delivered in 1993 to a group of top clerics and academics from the Arab world, he urged them to face the scourge of religious extremism, raising young people's knowledge of religious concepts that call for tolerance and compassion, as well as rejecting violence and the culture of hatred and intolerance, through reasoned and moderate religious discourse.

The Second Axis: Tolerance in the Leaderships' thought (Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan-Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan-Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum-Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed)

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan presented a groundbreaking model of tolerance in speech and behavior, emphasizing that tolerance is the only way to build human relations based on mutual respect and achieve security, peace, and prosperity for all, whether at the internal level of each country or in the relationships of states and societies with one another. In this regard, the late Sheikh Zayed stated the following (Hikma, 1998): “No country can live in isolation from the international community, and no people can advance without closely observing the steps of other peoples that preceded them on the path of progress, and trying to benefit from experiences that suit their circumstances, and the world,” he said on the occasion of National Day in 1972. It is nothing more than a group of nearby families with its states, and if the connection between neighbors improves, and its motto is brotherhood and tolerance, security and stability will expand".

The word "tolerance" was cited once, along with other synonyms that carry the same meaning (brotherhood, good neighborliness), emphasizing that tolerance, good neighborliness, and brotherhood are the foundations for creating security and stability.

Similarly, he stated, "The most important counsel I give to my children is to avoid hubris, and my opinion that the great does not reduce or weaken him to be humble and tolerant of people, because tolerance among human beings leads to compassion." Because tolerance occurs between humans, the word "tolerance" appears twice: "tolerates with humans," and "because tolerance is between people." Other words with the same meaning: (humility, compassion, peace and emphasizing human brotherhood). "The scholars' duty is to explain to the people the essence of Islam and its great message in a manner befitting the tolerance of the true religion, which encourages calling to the path of God with wisdom and good preaching, so that people respond and confront terrorism in the name of religion and killing in the name of religion," he said.

The word “tolerance” appeared once. His Highness Sheikh Zayed referred to tolerance as the essence of the Islamic religion, and that strengthening this would remove the values of violence and terrorism in the name of religion. The founder, Sheikh Zayed, also wrote, in his words and actions, immortal messages and firm foundations, the most prominent of which is his saying: "The approach of Islam is to treat every person as a human being, regardless of his creed or race." The word “tolerance” was not used literally, but the content of the saying emphasized religious and ethnic tolerance as a human value that should prevail among human beings regardless of their religion or race. He said: “Without tolerance, there would be no friendship and brotherhood, for tolerance is an advantage.” The word “tolerance” was mentioned once, and Sheikh Zayed stresses in this saying that the value of tolerance is the basis for building intimate and cooperative human relations. His Highness has established a basis for dealing with the other who is different in religion and culture. During his visit to Pakistan on May 28, 1972, he emphasized that dealing with non-Muslim countries is based on respect for the human bond by saying: “As for the other line of our policy with non-Islamic countries, it is a purely human line based on love and tolerance. We have a duty towards humanity, we cooperate with it, we deal with it as human beings, we respect them as human beings, and we embrace them as much as they promise us of friendship and affection.” The word “tolerance” was mentioned once, although the content of the word emphasized what strengthens human relations with those who differ with you culturally and religiously, such as human brotherhood, respect, love and affection. And when Sheikh Zayed was told that 85% of the UAE's population are expatriate workers, he said: “Sustenance is from God, money is from God, grace is for God, human beings are God’s creation, and the earth belongs to God, and whoever works and trusts in God, God will give him, and whoever desires to live with us is welcome.”

Although the word "tolerance" is not used literally in this saying, it strongly expresses the extent of Sheikh Zayed's tolerance in dealing with others, and his welcome to everyone who comes to the Emirates regardless of race or religion, and that his tolerance is a fruit of his deep faith in God, and his willingness to share what God has blessed him with everyone.

Sheikh Zayed did not miss the opportunity to meet with a foreign guest or a Western official, without revealing the essence of Islam as a religion of mercy, as was the case during his meeting with British Crown Prince Charles in 1993, which led Charles to admit later that the Sheikh showed him a lot of what was ambiguous for him, As he explained to him, "Islam is a religion of mercy, tolerance, love and forgiveness, understanding and rational discourse, human rapprochement, and the best treatment," he is unaware of the violence practiced by terrorists who falsely claim Islam and slaughter their brothers and families in its name to achieve their malicious goals under the banner of religion. During his meeting with Prince Charles, he highlighted the importance of tolerance, and he did it emphatically with words that conveyed the same meaning (Islam is a religion of mercy, tolerance, love and forgiveness). Throughout his life and rule, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan sought to consolidate the values of tolerance, moderation, and common human coexistence, as well as to demonstrate the distinguished image of the UAE in (peaceful coexistence), religious tolerance, and acceptance of the other, as he succeeded in making the Emirates the most important incubator for the values of tolerance. Peace, security, and cultural pluralism in which state laws protected justice for everyone and criminalized hatred, intolerance, and sources of division and difference.

Sheikh Zayed promoted tolerance as an approach and practice for the UAE's ruling elite. His Majesty Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the State, emphasized that the Year of Tolerance is an extension of the "Year of Zayed" since it contains the highest ideals that the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan instilled in the people of the Emirates by saying: “Tolerance instilling is an extension of Zayed's method. It is a key value in the construction of societies, the stability of states, and the happiness of peoples, and the most essential thing we can inculcate in our people are Zayed's values and human legacy, as well as the deepening of the principle of tolerance among our children"( Zaatari, 2018).

In another address on the significance of knowledge and science in establishing a culture of tolerance, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the State, said: “Reading broadens minds, fosters tolerance, openness, and dialogue, and helps to establish a civilized society free of extremism and closure.” The word "tolerance" was referenced once, emphasizing that education, culture, and widening one's scope of thought are ways to comprehend the other, be open, and reject extremism and violence (Zayed, 2019).

His highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai, highlighted the importance of tolerance in many of his speeches, as seen by his speech creating the Ministry of Tolerance, a proactive UAE initiative: “We are keen on tolerance because history is a powerful teacher, and the present also told us that what happened in our region in the last five years was due to religious, sectarian, and intellectual intolerance, so we cannot allow hatred in the UAE, and we appointed a Minister of Tolerance to support tolerance in all its forms and types". Where the word "tolerance" is mentioned four times, emphasizing the importance of tolerance as a means of rejecting hatred, violence, and extremism.

His Highness also emphasized the importance of tolerance in other sayings, including: "The UAE, led by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the State, pursues the path of moderation, moderation, and tolerance in the application of the teachings, laws, and provisions of our pure Islamic religion found in the dear book of God and the hadiths of his Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The word "tolerance" was mentioned once, to confirm that tolerance is an Islamic value commanded by God and His Noble Messenger, and the UAE has taken it as a political approach.

Similarly, His Highness stated, "Tolerance is the foundation for developing societies and their interconnection, as well as promoting the ideals of peace and coexistence in them, and the UAE society is kind, embracing tolerance, and maintaining human traditions and values.""

The term "tolerance" was stated twice in the speech, and the content stressed this principle by highlighting that tolerance is the foundation of cohabitation, developing societies, and propagating a culture of peace.

His Royal Highness's words Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, acknowledged the importance of tolerance by saying: "The UAE, through its regional policies and model, conveys strong messages about the importance of tolerance, peace, and collaborative development work in addressing the various difficulties that we face as a global community." His Highness emphasized tolerance in his statement, even if it was only mentioned as a single word, but it came in a broader context, as the content of His Highness' speech clarified that tolerance is a foundation for coexistence, joint work, and confronting the challenges that the entire international community faces.

Likewise, His Highness said: "With Zayed's approach, the UAE is establishing a global model of tolerance and cohabitation. It has captured the hearts of millions of people all over the world. Many individuals around the country genuinely care about us, coexist with us, and share our hopes and dreams".

The word "tolerance" is mentioned only once, but the overall context of His Highness' speech reinforces this value established by the UAE as a political approach at home and abroad, and this approach is the foundation for what the UAE has achieved in cooperative relations with various countries around the world, in addition to being the foundation for what the UAE enjoys the feelings of loyalty, belonging and love.

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, affirmed: “Tolerance is a societal obligation for every citizen in our country, as well as a continuation of the human journey of the country's founding leader, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who was committed to making tolerance a work method and a way of life in the Emirates.” His Highness Sheikh Abdullah mentioned the term tolerance twice in his remarks. His speech emphasizes the importance of tolerance and describes how it is both a professional strategy and a way of life. He stressed in a statement to His Highness Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice Chairman of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi: “Tolerance, according to the UAE's wise leadership, is a noble human virtue and one of the values that unite people of various ethnicities, races, faiths, political and cultural affiliations. Conflict and conflict caused by the absence of a tolerance culture

It is clear from His Highness' speech that he wanted to emphasize the value of tolerance, which was mentioned three times, and the content of the word came to reinforce it strongly, as His Highness explained that it represents a need and necessity given the conflicts that threaten the lives of societies as a result of the lack of a tolerance culture.

His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, emphasized the value of tolerance in a speech in which he said: "The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan's thought and firm attitude to making the good land of the Emirates an oasis of tolerance, pluralism, and diversity in which people coexist in an atmosphere of acceptance, respect, harmony, and harmony inspire the UAE's leadership, government, and people." Despite the fact that the word "tolerance" appeared only once in His Highness's word, the content of the word has strengthened it through the presence of some synonyms that convey the same meaning, such as acceptance, and the content of the word indicates that tolerance is a foundation for coexistence and acceptance of pluralism, as well as human and cultural harmony. His Excellency Lubna Al Qasimi, former Minister of State for Tolerance, said: "The UAE founded its tolerance ideology on the tolerance of the Islamic faith, the UAE constitution, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan's legacy, real Emirati principles, international covenants, archaeology, history, human instinct, and shared values." coexistence, harmony, and intellectual, cultural, religious, and sectarian acceptance of the other.”

Her Highness underlines the importance of tolerance by using the word "tolerance" twice, in addition to other expressions with the similar meaning, such as acceptance of the other, moderation, peace, and coexistence. She also emphasized the UAE's tolerance foundations and pillars, which are represented by tolerance of the Islamic religion, the UAE constitution, and the principles and practices established by Sheikh Zayed. In addition to international treaties confirming the importance of tolerance (Sanad, 2019).

The Third Axis: Public Policies and the Centrality of the Value of Tolerance: Laws, Initiatives and Policies

The focus of this axis will be on the most important policies and activities implemented by the UAE to promote the principle of tolerance, whether at the federal or municipal levels.

The Value of Tolerance in Internal Politics in the UAE Policies - Legislation and Initiatives

Tolerance is a major value in the political leadership's and Emirati culture's thinking, and it has served as a basic guide for legislation and policies at both the internal and exterior levels. It may be good to begin investigating the importance of tolerance in the UAE constitution, laws, and legislation at this point. The texts of the UAE constitution are primarily based on the Islamic religion, what is applicable in Arab constitutions, and what is consistent with international conventions and accords. Tolerance is thus a major concept in the UAE constitution, and it is represented in numerous laws that ensure human dignity and public rights without discrimination. Article 26 declares that “no one shall be subjected to torture or degrading treatment” in order to promote human dignity. According to Article 38 of the UAE Constitution: "Extradition of citizens and political refugees is illegal, as human dignity is emphasized in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" (UAE government, 2017).

This is consistent with and in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states in its preamble: "Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family constitutes the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world”.

The preamble to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights begins with the following phrase: "The States Parties to this Covenant, Recognizing that recognition of the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is in accordance with the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, The foundation of freedom, justice, and equality".

The preamble to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights begins similarly: "The states parties to this covenant, considering that recognition of the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family constitutes, in accordance with the principles proclaimed in the United Nations, the basis for freedom, justice, and peace in the world".

The UAE Constitution underlined the importance of preserving human personal freedom. Article 26 of the UAE Constitution states that “personal freedom is guaranteed to all citizens, and no one may be arrested, searched, or detained except in accordance with the provisions of the law,” and Article 31 states that “no one may be arrested, searched, or detained except in accordance with the provisions of the law: “The freedom and confidentiality of postal and telegram correspondence, as well as other modes of communication, are guaranteed by law.” Thus, in accordance with Islamic principles and teachings, the UAE constitution underlined the value and assurance of freedom as a prerequisite for human enjoyment of his other rights, as stated in the Holy Quran: "Allah will not impose blame upon you for what is meaningless in your oaths, but He will impose blame upon you for [breaking] what you intended of oaths. So its expiation is the feeding of ten needy people from the average of that which you feed your [own] families or clothing them or the freeing of a slave. But whoever cannot find [or afford it] - then a fast of three days [is required]". Al-Maaida 89

Other verses demonstrate how the Islamic religion was keen to secure human freedom, and made emancipation from slavery an atonement for many sins, in order to gradually eradicate the pre-Islamic civilization of slavery and guarantee human dignity without discrimination, as Omar Ibn Al-Khattab stated: “Since when you have taken people for slaves and they were born free” Moreover, the UAE constitution, in its guarantee of human freedom, affirms a human value guaranteed by international constitutions and norms (Ministry of Tolerance, 2018).

The right to life is guaranteed by the UAE constitution, even if it does not explicitly include a specific legal text, because Islamic Sharia is an essential starting point for what it says, and because the Qur'anic text has safeguarded the human right to life and has forbidden assault on the human soul in the Holy Quran: "And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden, except by right. And whoever is killed unjustly - We have given his heir authority, but let him not exceed limits in [the matter of] taking life. Indeed, he has been supported [by the law]". (International Bill of Human Rights, 2020), as stated in Article (332), whomever knowingly kills a person shall be punished with life imprisonment (25 years) or temporary imprisonment (three years). 15 years), and the sentence must be the death penalty if the killing was committed in an ambush, was premeditated, or was accompanied or connected to another crime. The implementation is now complete.

The UAE's decision-makers were eager to achieve justice and equality among citizens as a prerequisite for the formation of cooperative social connections and as one of the pillars of establishing security and stability. According to Article 14 of the Constitution: “Among the cornerstones of society are equality and social justice, providing security and tranquility, and equal possibilities for all citizens, while solidarity and compassion serve as a strong link between them.”

Furthermore, Article 25 of the UAE Constitution states that “all individuals are equal before the law, and no discrimination exists amongst citizens of the Federation on the basis of origin, residence, religious belief, or socioeconomic status.”

This demonstrates the UAE's desire to reach the highest level of equality, as well as its rejection of all types of discrimination. The UAE constitution established the idea of equality for all individuals, whether citizens and residents, male and female. Article Twenty-text fifth's was inclusive of everybody.

According to Article 7 of the UAE Constitution, "Islam is the official religion of the Federation, and Islamic Sharia is a key source of legislation in it." It is worth noting that the acceptance of the state's official religion has no effect on religious freedom (UAE government, 2020).

If Islamic Sharia is a primary source of legislation, the main concept is that there is no compulsion in religion, according to Islamic teachings: “There is no compulsion in religion” (Surat Al-Isra, 2013).

As a result, Article 32 of the UAE Constitution states: "The freedom to perform religious rites in conformity with established customs, provided that such performance does not harm public order or public morals.”

To protect religious freedom, Article (312) of the Federal Penal Code provides for the punishment of anybody who violates any of the Islamic sanctities or rituals, or insults one of the recognized monotheistic religions. Article (319) of the same law provides for the penalty of anybody who opposes or assaults the Islamic religion's foundations or teachings.

On July 15, 2015, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed issued a decree to combat bigotry and intolerance in the interest of the UAE's political leadership preserving liberties to the fullest extent possible, particularly religious freedom. The Combating Discrimination and Hatred Decree Law No. 2 of 2015 was issued. The first article of the “Contempt of Religions” statute states: “Any conduct that would be offensive to the divine, religions, prophets, messengers, celestial texts, or places of worship.” In its first item, the decree also defined “discrimination” as “any distinction, restriction, exemption, or favor between individuals or groups on the basis of religion, belief, creed, sect, sect, race, color, or ethnic origin.” In its first provision, the decree also defined “hate speech” as “any comment or conduct that might stir up dissension, friction, or Distinguish between individuals or groups.”

The law then defined the “crime of religious blasphemy” in Article 4: “anyone who does any of the following acts shall be judged to have committed the crime of religious blasphemy” (Fawzy, 2000):

• Insulting God.

• Mocking, ridiculing, or disparaging any religion or any of its rituals or sanctuaries, or Disrupting licensed religious rites or ceremonies with violence or threats

• Infringing on any of the holy books by distorting, desecrating, or insulting them.

• Mocking, insulting, or offending one of the prophets or messengers, their wives, families, or companions.

• Vandalism, abuse, or desecration of places of worship, cemeteries, tombs, or any of their appurtenances or contents.

It is important to note that the UAE has endeavored to encourage a culture of discourse and tolerance in its school curricula as the quickest path to peace and the abolition of violence and extremism.

A meeting was held in Sharjah in 2014 for educational experts from the UAE and ten Arab countries at the Regional Center for Educational Planning in Sharjah, in cooperation with the UNESCO and the Arab Bureau of Education, to discuss mechanisms for integrating the values of citizenship, tolerance and human rights into education curricula and ways to apply them, methods of teaching values and enhancing coordination among educational practitioners, and to provide an opportunity for curriculum experts to be able to promote positive values in school curricula, as well as the possibility of training experts to master educational skills for communicating these values to young people and instilling them in their minds (Baqarah, 2006).

Sheikha Kholoud Al Qasimi (former Director of Curriculum at the Ministry of Education) confirmed that the tolerance axis was included in the national document for Islamic education curriculum. It is carried out in the following manner:

• The first stage (elementary) starting from the 2012-2013 academic year.

• The second stage (preparatory), starting from the 2013-2014 academic year.

• The third stage (secondary), starting from the 2014-2015 academic year.

Given that the inclusion of the tolerance axis in Islamic education curricula leads to learners' acquisition of the virtues of tolerance and peaceful coexistence in theory and practice through transactions and behavior.

The initiative's primary objective is to confirm the values of tolerance and peaceful coexistence through a variety of topics ranging from first to twelfth grade, in addition to promoting the values of tolerance found in the Qur'an and Sunnah, identifying the positive effects of tolerance, its controls and limits, and the formation of a tolerant learner capable of realizing diversity. Coexistence of cultures and peaceful cohabitation with others (UAE Govt., 2012).

In February 2016, the state appointed a Minister of Tolerance, a new position in the government, to work on establishing tolerance as a fundamental value in society. This new ministry supports the state's position in intellectually, culturally, sectorial, and religiously cementing the ideals of tolerance, pluralism, and acceptance of the other, as well as conveying its message to the rest of the globe.

The National Program for Tolerance was enacted by the Council of Ministers in June 2016, with the goal of demonstrating the true image of moderation, respect for others, and propagating the ideals of peace and harmony. The curriculum was founded on seven major pillars: Islam, the UAE constitution, Zayed's legacy and Emirati morals, international norms, archaeology and history, human instinct, and shared values.

His Highness In his capacity as Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum issued Law No. 9 of 2017 establishing the International Institute for Tolerance. His Highness also issued Decree No. 23 of 2017 establishing the Board of Trustees of the International Institute for Tolerance and Decree No. 28 of 2017 appointing a member Delegated to the International Institute for Tolerance, the law establishing the International Institute for Tolerance includes the establishment of an award called the "Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Tolerance," to be administered by the International Institute for Tolerance.

The Institute's mission is to spread the spirit of tolerance in society, to strengthen the UAE's regional and international standing as a model of tolerance, to consolidate a culture of openness and civilized dialogue, and to reject fanaticism, extremism, and intellectual isolation, as well as all manifestations of discrimination between people based on religion, gender, race, color, or language.

This was confirmed by the World Tolerance Summit, which was held on November 15, 2018, in the Emirate of Dubai and is considered the largest gathering of government leaders, key figures from the public and private sectors, peace ambassadors, and change makers from all over the world who aim to discuss the importance of tolerance, peace, and equality, as well as celebrate diversity among people from all walks of life (Regional Center for Educational Planning, 2002).

In November 2017, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, may God protect him, directed the name of the most beautiful pedestrian bridge in the Emirate of Dubai on the new waterway, the Tolerance Bridge, to highlight the value of tolerance in the UAE, coinciding with the International Day for Tolerance, which falls on November 16 of each year.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, named the Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Mosque in Mushrif after Maryam Umm Issa, "peace be upon them," in order to strengthen human links between monotheistic faith adherents.

The World Council of Muslim Communities was founded on April 16, 2018, in Abu Dhabi, with the goal of coordinating the efforts of Muslim minority institutions and improving their role by encouraging their members to contribute to the civil and economic renaissance of their countries, correcting the stereotyped image of Islam and Muslim minorities, and bridging the "intellectual gap" between components of a society.

On February 4, 2019, the “Human Fraternity” document was announced in Abu Dhabi during the activities of the Human Fraternity Meeting, which brought together the Pope of the Catholic Church and the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, in a historical scene, the document included principles of coexistence and common human values.

During the announcement of the document, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, ordered the allocation of a land area on Saadiyat Island and the construction of a new cultural landmark called the “Abrahamic Family House.” The unique religious landmark symbolizes the state of peaceful coexistence and the reality of fraternity. The humanitarian experience experienced by the various races and nationalities of the various faiths and religions in the society of the UAE, and his approach will draw from the historical document signed in the Emirates between the Grand Imam and his Holiness the Pope (Hassan, 2016).

Tolerance in Foreign Policy, the most Important Initiatives

The UAE's foreign policy has explicitly stated the importance of the concept of tolerance in the UAE's engagement with other countries and peoples. In his speech on the occasion of the UAE's National Day in 1972, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan described the UAE's foreign policy orientation by saying: “There is no state that can live in isolation from the international community, and no people can advance without closely observing the steps of other peoples that preceded it on the path of progress, and trying to benefit from experiences that suit their circumstances, and the world with its countries is nothing but a group of Neighboring families, and if the relationship between neighbors improves and their motto is brotherhood and tolerance, and security and stability will prevail.

Thus, His Highness established an original approach in the UAE's relationship with other countries represented in presenting brotherhood, good neighborly relations, and cooperation over any other consideration, and such an approach is one of the pillars of the UAE's foreign policy success, as well as a foundation for achieving security and stability.

The foreign policy of the UAE was committed to that approach established by the late God Almighty, as will become clear from the following (International Institute for Tolerance, 2021):

a) Tolerance as a guide for resolving border conflicts with neighboring countries: Sheikh Zayed, the state's creator, prioritized brotherly and good-neighborly relations over everything else, which aided in the resolution of border disputes with both the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman over the Buraimi oasis and the Khor Al Adeed area. As a result, the conflict was resolved and strong cooperative contacts were developed, and his handling of the situation was a critical role in attaining regional security and stability. Years later proved what His Highness enjoyed, particularly after the formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council in 1981, on the one hand, and how the territory of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has become a security and strategic depth for the UAE as a result of the two countries' cooperation relationship on the other.

b) His foresight in handling the situation of Iran's occupation of the UAE islands: Despite the fact that the Iranian occupation of the UAE islands violated the UAE's sovereignty over its lands, His Highness emphasized, in more than one way, the UAE's eagerness to provide good neighborliness and cooperation with Iran, and that the UAE adheres to its right to restore the islands based on dialogue and international arbitration. Despite Iran's hostile behavior represented in the occupation of the islands, the UAE did not escalate the dispute, but was always keen to emphasize the good-neighborly relations between the two countries.

c) His Highness Sheikh Zayed was well aware of worldwide environmental data. As he emphasized in his speech at the Fourth Summit of Non-Aligned Countries in Algeria, his support for the Organization of Non-Aligned Countries was a conscious response to these facts in the 1970s, which were dominated by Cold War conditions and an atmosphere of polarization. In the month of September 1973: "We condemn racial discrimination in all its forms, and we fully support the liberation movements in the world, especially in Africa, and we are ready to do everything we can to help these movements achieve justice and human rights."

d) The humanitarian premise, benevolence and tolerance governed all foreign relations of the late Sheikh Zayed, without discrimination on the basis of religion, race or culture, and this was evident when he was received in 1974 as a delegate to the Pope at the time, the late Pope Paul VI, who expressed admiration And wide with the tolerance that is launched on the land of the Emirates, and at a time when there were not yet diplomatic relations between the Emirates and the Vatican (Ministry of Tolerance, 2020).

e) Sheikh Zayed was always willing to provide aid and relief to everybody without prejudice, as seen by his support for earthquake victims in western Guatemala, America, in 1976, with the aid totaling over one hundred million dollars at the time.

f) His humanitarian positions and eagerness to promote peace and defuse violence and conflict were visible in the UAE's mediation efforts in many situations of violence and conflict in Somalia in 1992, Yemen in 1994, and other countries. The UAE is vital in the humanitarian and relief arena, as it provides humanitarian aid to dozens of nations, particularly those in conflict or affected by natural catastrophes. According to an announcement made by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's Development Aid Committee, the volume of UAE official development aid in 2016 amounted to 15.23 billion dirhams, or 1.12 percent of gross national income, with more than 54 percent of that aid going to Africa. (UAE’s Foreign Policy, 2017). The United Nations revealed that the UAE ranked first in the world as the greatest humanitarian donor to the brotherly Yemeni people in 2019 by supporting the UN Humanitarian Response Plan in Yemen, which was indicated in a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on the level of financing for the 2019 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan; this report reflects relief supplied to Yemen from January 1 to July 2, 2019.

g) The UAE adopted the Arab Convention on Combating Terrorism, which entered into force in May 1999, as a confirmation of the state's stance of fostering peace and rejecting extremism and violence. Under this umbrella, the UAE took part in the GCC interior ministers' meeting in Manama on October 30, 2001, and declared its support for international action and collaboration to confront terrorism, cut off its funding sources, and address its causes. It also reiterated, in collaboration with the GCC countries, the importance of distinguishing between terrorism, the right to struggle, and legitimate struggle.

In December 2012, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, inaugurated the International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism, known as Hedayah, the new name of the International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism, during the third ministerial meeting of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum, which was held in Abu Dhabi.

In July 2015, the UAE, in collaboration with the United States of America, launched the "Sawab Center," an interactive electronic messaging program aimed at assisting the worldwide coalition's efforts to combat extremism and terrorism.

During the Emirates International Conference on National Security and Resilience in March 2018, the Emirates Society for Tolerance and Peaceful Coexistence was launched, with the goal of creating and developing a smart platform whose applications are concerned with various aspects of supporting the discourse of tolerance, as well as establishing a training center within the association for the purpose of training (Zayed, 2019).

The UAE's foreign policy is a pioneering model in soft diplomacy, as His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the State, has continued his father's approach in promoting the principles and pillars of its humanitarian, moral, and value model in order to crystallize the idea of a "model state" based on soft power. Therefore, the UAE has enjoyed a distinguished international reputation, as it ranked first regionally and 27 globally in the index of the most popular countries in 2017.

For the fifth year in a row, the UAE has maintained its position as one of the largest international donors in the field of official development assistance, ranking first in the world as the largest donor of foreign aid in the world in 2017, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's Development Assistance Committee.

According to the global competitiveness indicators for the year 2017-2018, the UAE also placed first in 50 categories in numerous vital, community, and service sectors. Such as the quality of government decisions, the ability of the government to adapt to changes, the effectiveness of government spending, the absence of tax impact on investment attractiveness, public-private partnerships, the development and application of technology, quality of roads, quality of tourism infrastructure, digital transformation in companies, property rights between the sexes, tolerance of foreigners, low level of violent crimes and cyber security.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, confirmed that the UAE is the first in the world to tolerate foreigners in 3 international reports:

• Global Competitiveness Yearbook

• Legacym Prosperity Index Report

• INSEAD Global Talent Competitiveness Index Report.

And the UAE ranked first in terms of the lack of labor disputes and property rights between the sexes, the lack of violent crimes, information security, the quality of roads and the tourism infrastructure (UAE Govt., 2018).

In order to enhance the country's international standing and reputation, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced in April 2018 the formation of the State Soft Power Council to enhance the country's reputation regionally and globally.

The opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum on November 8, 2017, also represents a qualitative addition in terms of enhancing the UAE's tourism, cultural and artistic status. It is also a landmark of cultural communication and civilized dialogue between societies.

The UAE is a center for hosting major conferences and events that enhance the soft power of the Emirates, in addition to the human and cultural communication represented by these meetings (Bayan, 2018).


The study concludes that the value of tolerance is an inherent value in Arab culture, whether it is a tribal tributary or a basic value in Emirati community culture, especially given that the UAE society, due to its location and coastal geographic nature, has been open to various races, religions, and cultures since ancient times through trade.

As shown by the study's results, the value of tolerance held a major position in the UAE's political leadership and was represented in thought, language, and practice.

In a relatively short period of time, the UAE was able to present a pioneering model of tolerance, coexistence, and cultural harmony that laid its first foundations, the founding leader Sheikh Zayed, may his soul rest in peace, and became a political approach for the UAE, both internally and externally.

This approach was obviously expressed in the speeches of the UAE's ruling class, and it did not end there. Rather, it served as the foundation for many policies, laws, and programs that encourage tolerance, discourse, respect for human brotherhood, and the spread of a culture of peace, both within and externally.

The UAE was the first to establish a Ministry of Tolerance, and the UAE served as an example for the possibilities of civilization and cultural tolerance and blending, particularly given its embracing of numerous ethnicities, races, religions, and civilizations on its soil.

The UAE was also the world leader in terms of overseas help, relief, and development, without discrimination, valuing human brotherhood, collaboration, and peace over all other factors.

Perhaps the UAE's internal security and stability, as well as its cooperative relations and international reputation, are just some of the fruits of its internal and external policy, which is based on prioritizing considerations of human brotherhood and tolerance at both the internal and external levels.


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