Abu Dhabi: The UAE government has announced dedicating 2019 as the Year of Tolerance to strengthen the nation’s role of encouraging stability and prosperity in the region.
Leaders took to social media to announce the move, following on from the Year of Zayed in 2018 and Year of Giving in 2017.
The announcement has come days after it was revealed Pope Francis will visit Abu Dhabi in February, a sign that the UAE is welcoming and tolerant of all religions.
In November, a World Tolerance Summit in Dubai attracted regional leaders and national figures to call for tolerance as an instigator of peace and stability.
The President, Sheikh Khalifa, declared 2019 the “Year of Tolerance”, highlighting the UAE as a global capital for acceptance through its legislative and policy goals.
“Instilling values of tolerance carries on Sheikh Zayed’s legacy and teachings,” Sheikh Khalifa said on Saturday.
“It is one of the most important attributes that we can impact on our people and the global community to ensure the safety, stability and happiness of peoples across the world.”
Those thoughts have been echoed on social media, with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, writing on Twitter: “Dear brothers and sisters, the President… has issued a directive to announce 2019 as the Year of Tolerance in the UAE, with the aim of solidifying the international role that the country plays as the capital of co-existence and meeting of civilisations.
“Tolerance is the cornerstone of advanced societies, intellectually and humanely, and is one of the tools of empowering civilisations and ensuring stability and flourishing of nations.
“In 2019, we will endeavour to establish this value and lead the intellectual, media and research production movements to reaffirm this value in our region, which has suffered a lot because of extreme allegiance to ideologies or factions or parties.”
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said the “world today needs universal human values to be promoted for the sake of future generations”.
It was announced the theme will be an extension of the Year of Zayed, as it upholds the values of tolerance and co-existence that the Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed, established among the people of the UAE.
This year, the UAE announced it will be a global co-ordinator for co-operation within a new Global Tolerance Alliance to promote acceptance around the world.
An agreement on tolerance was signed by dignitaries from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and the US – as well as the Emirates Human Rights Association, Higher Colleges of Technology and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation.
The Papal visit will be marked with a mass at Zayed Sports City on February 5, where more than 100,000 people are expected to attend.
He will also visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Founder’s Memorial.
The Special Olympic World Games, to be held in Abu Dhabi from March 14-21 in 2019, are also expected to feature heavily in a year-long series of events promoting tolerance.
It will be the first time for the Games to be held in the Mena region, and is expected to attract more than 7,500 athletes from around the world and an estimated 500,000 spectators.
Athletes will compete in a variety of events at a total of 11 venues in Abu Dhabi. They include Zayed Sports City, the National Exhibition Centre, the Yas Marina Circuit and the Abu Dhabi Yacht and Sailing Club.
Other venues are the New York University Abu Dhabi, Khalifa International Bowling Centre and the Armed Forces Officers Club.
Tolerance themed events and publications will continue throughout 2019.