From the very first day of its founding, the UAE has always embraced tolerance as a core tenet in its principles. The late leader Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan promoted the values of peace, harmony and coexistence at home, across the region and around the world. The leadership has designated 2019 as the Year of Tolerance, a natural progression from 2018 which was the Year of Zayed.
This is a nation that has been open to its expatriate workers and those from abroad, readily embracing the cultures, heritage and beliefs of those valued members of UAE society, ensuring that those practices follow the principle of tolerance and inclusivity. While the UAE is a nation built on the beliefs of a peace-loving and moderate Islam, other faiths were respected to spread peace, fellowship, tolerance and coexistence for all.
Now, in Abu Dhabi, a new landmark featuring a church, mosque and synagogue will be built in one location — a physical manifestation of different faiths side by side under one symbolic roof.
This is a nation that earlier this year welcomed Pope Francis, the first visit of a Roman Catholic leader to the Gulf. Peace, harmony and tolerance were highlighted during that visit. Given that this is a region that has witnessed the negatives of religious differences, the UAE is a positive beacon for harmony and peace.
Realising the goals
The Abrahamic Family House will take three years to complete and will open its doors to people of different faiths by 2022. The project is the result of planning by the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, a group tasked with developing a culture of mutual respect and dialogue across all backgrounds, beliefs and nationalities.
The building of a synagogue too should serve as a message that all faiths are welcomed. Those who equate being opposed to Israel for its abuse and mistreatment of the people of Palestine with anti-semitism are gravely mistaken.
The timing of unveiling the details of the Abrahamic Family House are also significant, coming at a time when world leaders are gathering in New York for the annual General Assembly of the United Nations.
The new body is empowered to provide guidance and counsel on realising the goals of the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” signed by His Holiness, Pope Francis of the Catholic Church, and His Eminence Dr. Ahmad Al Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif, in Abu Dhabi, during the papal visit in February.