Dubai has earned a position on the global stage with its name up there alongside New York, London and Paris. It is even beginning to surpass these cities with achievements (and setting the standards) in areas such as business, tourism, architecture, women’s rights, tolerance (in addition to appointing a woman minister, Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, as Minister of Tolerance), humanitarian initiatives and charities.
We are ranked 16th out of 137 countries in foreign aid, and we have a 22-year-old woman (Shamma Al Mazroui) as Minister of Youth. Additionally, it is an enormous melting pot for people of different races, ethnicities and religions.
Just as out of darkness comes light, out of the desert sprouted a city so magical, you would have to see it to believe. Almost like a mirage in the distance that would leave you speechless, Dubai is the big bang of the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, and it is continuing to set the standards in the region.
There is no such thing as the best, but there is always room to become better. There is no such thing as the greatest, but the is always room to become greater. That being said, there is something in particular that I hold very close and dear to my heart, which I believe Dubai and the rest of the UAE can improve to set the standards in the region and become greater.
Of course, I speak of animal rights, welfare and general care. These days, social media is the absolute fastest way for news to spread across the world. Some of the most upsetting news shared on social media is that of animal cruelty and torture all over the globe. The entire world is criticising every country under the social media spotlight, in addition to its government, from which these videos emerge.
Currently, the UAE has several government shelters, as well as TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) programmes in place to tackle these issues. In 2007, Federal Law No 16 concerning animal protection, abandonment, abuse and care was implemented by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Other laws have also been implemented such as Article 1 of Resolution No 15 of 2014 from the emirate of Sharjah, which states, “The natural and legal persons are prohibited to possess dangerous predator animals at homes or farms in the Emirate of Sharjah, whatever the purpose of the acquisition is.”
Also recently, Federal Law No 22 of 2016 was issued by Shaikh Khalifa to regulate the possession of dangerous animals. So it is clear that actions are being taken and there is progress.
However, people across the UAE are aware that there is a need to strictly enforce these laws. This is what I believe to be the biggest concern regarding animal welfare in the UAE, because it is inhumane, unethical and most of all un-Islamic to stand by idly as more cases pop up of animal mistreatment, abuse and abandonment. There is a lot of room for improvement and enforcement of these laws, but action needs to be taken.
I have heard many times that the abuse and mistreatment of animals is criticised as being linked to the culture of the UAE or linked to Islam.
The fact is that the people making these statements are just as uneducated as the people who mistreat animals.
It is quite clear in the teachings of Islam, as well as the teachings of every other religion, that animal cruelty is unacceptable.
There are many clear verses in the Quran, as well as narrations of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), in which animal care and kindness towards animals (including strays) as a whole is stressed.
I think if we take appropriate steps and do our part, it will be an easy task for the UAE to become a leading example in animal care and welfare. From Switzerland to Turkey, we can learn from other countries that have great animal welfare laws in place.
I believe it is crucial that we take the next steps to improve in this area and perhaps even set a goal by Expo 2020, when Dubai and the UAE will be receiving more guests than ever before.
Ahmed Saud Khalid is a freelance writer based in the UAE.