Coexistence: Dimensions of Emirati interest in issues of peace and tolerance

The UAE celebrated the “International Day of Peace”, which was approved by the United Nations General Assembly on September 21 of each year, a celebration that comes in light of the policies that the country has worked to dedicate over the past years with the aim of supporting the values ​​of peace and tolerance regionally and internationally. This interest in peace issues is linked to a number of main determinants, perhaps the most important of which is that the UAE is located in a region of severe crises and problems, which require interaction with it on an ongoing basis to maintain stability and calm. This is in addition to the cosmopolitan character of the UAE, which made it a model of peaceful coexistence between different components of society.

Emirati vision

Over the past years, the UAE has formulated a number of main principles and directions governing its vision of peace and tolerance, which can be addressed through the following:

1) The link between stability, peace and economic development: The Emirati vision relied on the continuous link between peace and economic development; For example, His Highness Sheikh “Mohammed bin Zayed”, President of the UAE, during his participation in the “Major Economies Forum” in June 2022, stressed the importance of consolidating peace and stability in the world, and added that “the UAE believes that the economy is the best way to achieve peace, security and progress.” Especially when governments and people have the will to build partnerships and face challenges.”

This link was also evident in the speech of His Highness Sheikh “Mohammed bin Zayed”, on July 13, 2022, when he indicated that “the policy of the UAE will continue to support peace and stability in our region and the world, and to help brother and friend, and advocate wisdom and cooperation for the good and progress of mankind, and we will continue In our firm approach to strengthening bridges of partnership, dialogue and effective and balanced relations based on trust, credibility and mutual respect with the countries of the world to achieve stability and prosperity for all.”

2) Strengthening the legislative structure that supports tolerance and peace: The state has worked to strengthen the legislative structure aimed at enshrineing the value of tolerance and coexistence between different nationalities and religions; For example, in July 2015, Decree-Law No. 2 on combating discrimination and hatred was issued, a law aimed at enriching a culture of global tolerance and confronting manifestations of discrimination and racism. In 2016, the Council of Ministers approved the National Program for Tolerance with the aim of consolidating the values ​​of tolerance and cultural pluralism. Renouncing discrimination, hatred and intolerance. Over the past years, there have been many official and community initiatives in support of the idea of ​​tolerance.

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3) Establishment of institutions that promote tolerance and peace: To complement the development of the legislative framework for the values ​​of tolerance and community peace, the UAE created some institutions such as the Ministry of State for Tolerance in February 2016 with the aim of supporting the state’s position towards consolidating the values ​​of tolerance and pluralism, and acceptance of the other. Right to refute hatred and intolerance.

In this context, the state has put forward several initiatives and awards that serve tolerance and world peace, including the “Mohammed bin Rashid Tolerance Award”, which was launched in 2016, and aims to build young Arab leaders and cadres in the field of tolerance, and support intellectual, cultural and media productions related to consolidating the values ​​of tolerance and openness to The other in the Arab world, and seeks to change the lives of 130 million people in the coming years in all fields, and the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Prize for World Peace, which was launched in 2011, and aims to honor all groups and entities that have distinguished contributions to the cause of peacekeeping and stability in the world and their development. .

4) Extensive adoption of coexistence values: Tracing the official policies and discourses issued by decision-makers in the UAE reveals the intense adoption of the values ​​and discourse of coexistence among all groups. The country has more than 200 different nationalities, and has diplomatic relations with more than 190 countries, in addition to 73 consulates and more than 110 foreign embassies. It cannot be overlooked that these facts have strengthened the UAE’s role in spreading a culture of peace and tolerance regionally and internationally.

different moves

Based on the dimensions of the Emirati vision of peace and tolerance, the UAE has adopted some moves in support of peace and tolerance regionally and globally. The most important of these moves can be addressed as follows:

1) Engage in regional de-escalation efforts: The Emirati moves in recent years have reflected attempts to achieve regional calm. Perhaps this is what became clear with Abu Dhabi’s announcement, last August, of returning its ambassador to Iran to confirm its commitment to establishing positive relations with Tehran and all parties in the region. This trend also appeared when the UAE signed a peace agreement and established diplomatic relations with Israel, in September 2020; The UAE confirmed that signing this agreement aims to enhance stability in the region and to search for a sustainable and just solution to the Palestinian cause. Decision makers have affirmed, on more than one occasion, the UAE’s continued commitment to supporting the Palestinian cause and seeking just solutions to it.

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2) Mediation Efforts in Some Conflicts: Over the past years, the UAE has played an active role in achieving international peace by mediating some conflicts. For example, Abu Dhabi played an important role in bringing Ethiopia and Eritrea together, which eventually led to the two countries signing a peace agreement in July 2018 after many years of hostility, as many reports indicated, in March 2021, that the UAE played a major role And it mediated secret talks between India and Pakistan to calm tensions between the two countries, which led to the armies of the two countries declaring, through a joint statement in February 2021, a pledge to abide by the 2003 ceasefire agreement, and the UAE was keen to play a mediating role in the Sudanese file and bring the powers closer Sudan in the post-ousting phase of former President “Omar al-Bashir” in 2019.

3) Attempting to formulate a global framework for interfaith coexistence: As part of its efforts to dedicate peace and tolerance globally, the UAE has sought to formulate a framework for coexistence between religions, and to present this framework as an alternative to theses of civilized conflict. For example, in February 2019, the UAE hosted the Pope of the Vatican and Pope Francis, on a visit that included holding a huge mass that attracted about 120,000 people, not to mention the signing of the Human Fraternity Document between the Sheikh of Al-Azhar and the Pope, and tried to embody this trend internally; In the capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi, there is the Maryam Umm Issa Mosque, peace be upon them, which was built in 1985 under the name “Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed” mosque, but in June 2017, His Highness Sheikh “Mohammed bin Zayed” directed the name “Maryam Umm Issa” On the mosque, surrounded by Catholic and Orthodox churches and cathedrals in the Mushrif area, which expresses the promotion of religious coexistence and tolerance in the country.

4) Participation in regional counter-terrorism activities: The UAE is committed to implementing its national strategy and laws aimed at combating terrorism; For example, over the past years, the UAE has put in place a number of laws to combat extremism in cyberspace, and the UAE and the United States of America have jointly established the “Sawab” Center, whose work was launched in March 2015, an interactive electronic messaging initiative aimed at supporting the efforts of the coalition. International in its war against extremism and terrorism. The UAE is part of the international coalition against ISIS, not to mention the role it played in combating terrorism in Yemen over the past years.

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5) Expanding the role of peace forums: Over the past years, the UAE has worked to develop the role of peace forums in supporting and promoting stability and peace regionally and globally. Perhaps the most prominent example of this is the Abu Dhabi Peace Forum, which appeared in 2014, under the name of the Forum “Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies” and was established with the aim of dedicating the values ​​of tolerance and peace; Where the official website of the forum indicates that the forum discusses “the humanitarian problems and issues facing man in today’s world, which have resulted from intellectual and sectarian conflicts in Muslim societies.” The forum also constituted an opportunity to host experts and scholars from different religious and cultural backgrounds.

During the past years, the Forum announced a number of major initiatives, such as the “Marrakesh” Declaration of January 2016, on the rights of minorities in the Islamic world, which attempted to devote a culture of religious coexistence and preserve the rights of religiously different people in Muslim societies. The forum’s activity entered a new phase in 2021, with the announcement, during the annual meeting of the forum in December 2021, of its transformation into the “Abu Dhabi Peace Forum” and the issuance of the Abu Dhabi Declaration on Inclusive Citizenship, which affirms the values ​​of tolerance and peaceful coexistence within different societies.

In conclusion, the policies adopted by the UAE over the past years to promote the values ​​of peace and tolerance have become an important determinant of the UAE’s endeavors to formulate a distinctive national brand for it at the regional and global levels. This is in the midst of the shifts in foreign policy tools and relations between countries, and the growing focus of countries on building their soft influence, which is sure to serve the economic and political interests of the UAE, especially as it is located in a region raging with crises and chronic conflicts.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

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