Everyday is Tolerance Day in the UAE: Lubna Al Qasimi

by Muhammad Aamir

ABU DHABI, 15th November, 2016 (WAM) – The UAE’s Minister of State for Tolerance has said that unity, tolerance and coexistence, are the hallmarks of the nation, and while the 16th of November is the International Day for Tolerance, in the UAE, “Every single day is a tolerance day.”

Speaking to Emirates News Agency, WAM, today, on the sidelines of the Etihad Tolerance Day, Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, said, “We opted with special celebrations with the Etihad Airways, which carries the message of peace and coexistence. The airline is considered to be the poster of the UAE by going to different countries, especially when you get in a flights you find that at least there are 15 or 19 nationalities, the language that are spoken on a single flight on every time you travel.”

Celebrating Etihad Tolerance Day at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, the Minister described the occasion as a “renascence, a moment of celebrations, which reflects a cohesion and a feeling of being together.”

For us this is the great day and a glorious occasion, as seen by the positive energy and the smile on the faces of the people who have gathered here, she noted, before adding, “We also have encouraged students at Zayed University to reflect how they feel, and they have done a lot of great jobs, furthering this cause in art, communication and technology.”

She went on to express the energy of the nation, saying, “What we have seen today reflects the spirit of this nation, through peoples energy, and their smiles. This energy is also witnessed, whether walking in a mall, or supermarket, or any public places like parks and coffee shops. It represents how we all live here in the UAE, in unity, tolerance and coexistence.”

Addressing attendees earlier in her speech, Sheikha Lubna said that in this era of increasing violence, intolerance and conflicts, the UAE stands solemnly as an “Incubator of Tolerance”. The country is an exemplary and unique model of a leading cosmopolitan country, with a myriad of cultures and nationalities living in a peaceful coexistence and harmony on its soil.

Recalling the words of Gandhi, she said, “I would like to share the message of tolerance, for tolerance is not a garment to be put on and off, but its seat is in the heart, and should be an inseparable part of our being.”

“Etihad Tolerance Day mirrors indeed the enduring legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and the path of tolerance which our founding father carved hand in hand with his brothers, and continued by today’s leadership,” she added.

Also speaking to WAM, James Hogan, Etihad Aviation Group President and Chief Executive Officer, said that nationalities came together on Etihad Tolerance Day to demonstrate their commitment to the values of the UAE, and to reflect tolerance in both their professional and personal life. “This is a wonderful example of not only talk but action. I certainly endorse what the minister, Sheikha Lubna has said, you have seen great example of not only the tolerance but the unity,” he said.

In his opening speech, Hogan said that since Etihad’s very first flight, they have sought to instil in employees one of the great national traits of the UAE, which is the value of respect. “We know that respect for others is a critical part of the UAE’s culture and a strong characteristic of the Emirati people.”

The United Arab Emirates is one of the most tolerant and welcoming countries in the world, he added, “We are fortunate to call it our home and benefit from the great hospitality and tolerance that flows from its engrained philosophy of respect and acceptance.”

“Our goal is for the people in our own business to use the UAE’s great example of tolerance to build the world’s best travel and aviation group,” Mr. Hogan added.

Sheikha Lubna today also toured the exhibition with Hogan where she looked at the photographs on display taken by Etihad employees portraying cross-cultural heritage.

She also met with a number of heads of various religious sects in the country, including Pastor Kevin, Chairman of Gulf Fellowship of Churches, Pastor Rey Corpus from the Filipino Church, Jeff Singer, President of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, Reverend Canon Andy Thompson, Chaplain of St Andrew’s Anglican Church in Abu Dhabi, and representatives from the Bahai, and Sikhs communities.