Tolerance is a human value that plays a pivotal role in the development of societies. It is also one of the key pillars of security and stability, which are the bedrock of sustainable development. This means tolerance has a comprehensive value not limited to any one field.

Religious tolerance has a direct relationship with an acceptance of others. Racial tolerance is linked to the equality of rights within a just society that provides equal opportunities for all.

Tolerance is thus an indivisible, and this was made clear at a recent forum held in Abu Dhabi. If we look at societies suffering from poverty and underdevelopment, we can conclude that these societies are dominated by ethnic or sectarian groups that took over the rights of others, thus setting off widespread corruption and social tensions.

Blighted societies

This led to calamitous results including loss of investment opportunities, a shrinking of investments, lack of professional and scientific capabilities, as well as loss of competencies that could have played a significant role in progress.

As clearly proven throughout the history, most developed societies are tolerant. This human value was, and is still, the magical reason behind the success of countries that have achieved developmental leaps that impressed the rest of the world. It provided equal opportunities for all, regardless of race, religion or colour, paving the way for creativity and invention and enhancing the sense of belonging to state and society.

At the same time, these tolerant societies have guaranteed a minimum standard of living for all through regulations that included giving everyone his or her due. This principle is one of the key foundations of tolerance, which helps create an economic and social environment necessary for security and stability and without which no development can be accomplished.

Curse of inequality

The instability and turmoil in the Arab region is a direct result of intolerance and repressing others’ rights, in addition to the large income disparity between different segments. There is also rampant chauvinism, sectarianism, and racism. Due to such challenges, these societies lost their growth momentum, wasted developmental opportunities for years, as well as enormous material and human potential.

On the other hand, dealing properly with the concept of tolerance will open wider scope for security, stability and development, where all members of society can participate in the process of building and development of their country within the legislative parameters of tolerance and social justice.

That’s why the Human Fraternity Document — signed by Sheikh Ahmed El Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi early this year — is important. It reaffirms that tolerance and brotherhood are important values that should prevail among human beings of all religions and sects.

It can even be built upon to consolidate the foundations of tolerance in other fields, giving all equal opportunities to participate in the development process. This would result in building developed societies away from conflicts and segregation, which only lead to the waste of resources and the migration of talent.

That is why it is crucial to establish strong foundations for tolerance, incorporate this concept into of the agendas of countries, and codify it with legislation where justice prevails and is put before any other consideration.

Dr Mohammad Al Asoomi is a UAE economic expert and specialist in economic and social development in the UAE and the GCC countries.