Washington: More than 100 government, religious and community leaders gathered at the UAE Embassy in Washington DC last week for an interfaith iftar.
Attendees witnessed the traditional breaking of the fast — the first-ever held by the diplomatic post — and heard speeches.
“While visibly it is food and water that we abstain from, Ramadan is about much more than that,” said Yousuf Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the US.
“I like to think of Ramadan as a New Year. It is a time to reset and reflect.” The ambassador spoke about the traditions of Ramadan and the importance of coming together during the month.
He also highlighted that the 19th day of Ramadan is particularly important for Emiratis, who mark the day as ‘Zayed Humanitarian Work Day’ and celebrate and honour the legacy of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
“Shaikh Zayed embodied the values we celebrate this month, including generosity, compassion and tolerance,” he said.
“While the values I’ve mentioned are especially important in Ramadan, they transcend culture and religion. These are values we hold dear in the UAE, where we welcome people from all backgrounds and religions.”
Congressman Thomas Suozzi, a Democrat from New York, spoke at the iftar, highlighting the importance of creating a sense of community among different people, and to learn more about one another.
Special guests included senior US government officials and community leaders like prominent imams, priests and rabbis who participated in a recent American Caravan for Peace mission to Abu Dhabi. Shaikh Hamza Yousuf, president of Zaytuna College and vice-president of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, also attended the iftar.
Guests also included ambassadors from member states of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Washington.
Commenting on the wide-ranging backgrounds of the leaders who gathered at the UAE Embassy for iftar, Al Otaiba said, “This diversity is what makes the UAE great, and what makes us who we are today.
“We wouldn’t be the country we are today without the hundreds of nationalities and faiths that are practised in the UAE and call the country their home.”