Abu Dhabi: In celebration of tolerance and community togetherness, the first ever National Festival of Tolerance struck a chord of unity in Abu Dhabi on Friday as thousands of residents revelled in a fun day out at the Umm Al Emarat Park.
Organised by the Ministry of Tolerance, the event was attended by Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, who led the opening of the festival with the Tolerance Walk.
The minister joined hundreds of other people as they walked around the park together celebrating the UAE’s diversity.
The country’s pluralistic complexion is said to be home to expats from more than 200 countries with places such as Dubai reporting more than 80 per cent of its residents hailing from foreign countries.
The festival will run until November 16 with more than 100 events taking place during the week, including daily musical and performance shows, children’s literature workshops and the Shaikh Zayed Exhibition.
“We heard about this event last month and we were really enthusiastic about taking part and coming together with so many people from different countries and backgrounds,” said Blessy Martin, an Indian resident who was taking part in the Tolerance Walk along with her husband and young daughter.
“The world is now a global place, and it’s through unity and tolerance that we can create peace. The UAE is a great example of a cohesive society and this festival is another way of showcasing that and so we’re very happy to be involved and to send a positive message,” she added.
Monette Endozo from the Philippines was also taking part in the Tolerance Walk with her husband and daughter.
“Having a festival like this is definitely a good thing to bring the people together and to celebrate our diversity. This is what makes the UAE a great country, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, everybody is welcomed and lives together in a very tolerant environment,” she said.
“I’m happy to also bring my daughter to this festival because it’s not only a nice day out at the park with the family, but it’s also sending a good message for my daughter and all the other young people attending the festival, it’s setting a good example for them,” she added.
Zulfiqar Ali Mohammad, a Pakistani resident living in the UAE for 20-years, also spoke positively about the event as he attended it with his wife and daughter.
“It’s very nice to see a festival that brings us all together. I think more events like this should be organised throughout the year because it helps develop our bond and unity within the community,” Mohammad said.
“Sharing our culture and bringing nations together is the best way of spreading the message of tolerance and building a strong and united community,” he added.
What: National Festival of Tolerance
Where: Umm Al Emarat Park, Abu Dhabi
When: November 9-November 16
Timings: 5pm-10pm Saturday, 9am-10pm Sunday-Thursday, and 5pm-10pm Friday