Human capital is the true wealth of a nation. In 2018, UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, delivered a call-to-action that was aimed at creating a lasting impact on the nation’s — and the world’s — future governments, organisations, and people.
His message was visionary: 2019 will go down in history as the ‘Year of Tolerance’.
Fast forward the clock three years, this declaration has become embedded within both UAE culture and corporate practice.
Dec. 3 has been designated by the United Nations as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). Designed to promote inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, this day sends a strong message to the world.
The UAE has been championing these causes by adopting an integrated approach to ensure full and equal participation of people of determination in all spheres of society. As part of the national strategy to empower people with disabilities, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, introduced a new term to refer to people with special educational needs and disabilities: “people of determination”.
This change came as part of a mission to, by 2021, make the UAE a more inclusive country that “integrates all segments of society while preserving culture, heritage and traditions”. The new terminology was created to change a mindset and was immediately embraced by the people of Dubai and beyond.
Pluralism is the bedrock needed to build and sustain an inclusive and cohesive society that enables everyone to prosper. That’s why we are fortunate to reside in this oasis of tolerance, social cohesion, and inclusivity that is the UAE.
‘The spirit of tolerance comes from within’
In the UAE, the freedom to express tolerance virtues is a defining factor that has placed the country at the forefront of global tolerance agendas. Examples of this include the UAE collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation to launch the UAE-UNESCO Global Tolerance Leadership Programme and the national initiative focused on establishing the UAE as a global incubator for tolerance approved by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Honing in on the areas of social inclusivity and cohesion for the UAE’s People of Determination, many initiatives are emerging from this shift in thinking. From Dubai’s Sustainable City’s plans to build ‘Sanad Village’, the world’s first and largest rehabilitation and education centre for People of Determination to the commitment by the Roads & Transport Authority in Dubai (RTA) to the creation of a seamless and cohesive smart transit experience across the city for people of determination. Most notably, Abu Dhabi’s successful hosting of the Special Olympics World Games in 2019 reflects the country’s recognition for the need to develop a more inclusive and hopeful world.
Collectively, examples such as these are enabling the UAE to reach a point where tolerance becomes the currency to propel this great nation. This is empowering businesses and leaders across all sectors to carry the message of tolerance into the formative years ahead — creating a world where everyone can fully participate in society.
At the heart of inclusivity and cohesion
Global Village is emerging as a symbol for tolerant virtues and thinking. Behind its awe-inspiring facades, which represent 80+ countries and cultures, Global Village is an international hub promoting peace, humanity, coexistence, and respect. From the colourful international roster of entertainment, to the diverse pool of store vendors encompassing a rich cross-section of the world, Global Village offers guests an authentic and unrivalled experience of what a tolerant world can offer.
At the heart of corporate objectives to create an everlasting spirit of inclusivity and cohesion, every measurable touchpoint should be examined and continually improved to ensure ease of access and maximum comfort for all.
At Global Village the team works tirelessly to improve experience for all our guests with, among others, dedicated facilities and areas for People of Determination, specialised parking spaces, access ramps, mobility vehicles, and smart-design toilet blocks. As a nation we should encourage organisations to implement a framework where annual inclusivity audits are run to measure how public spaces continue to improve access, convenience and ease of movement for all.
Global Village is a place for all, which is accessible to all, regardless of ability, age, race or culture.
Unity in diversity is a fundamental value of the UAE, and a cornerstone of the society we live in today. Bestowed to us by our founding fathers, we must embrace diversity within the workplace, within industries, within the communities of ourcountry and across the globe in the decades to come.
Peace, humanity, coexistence, respect: Four words. One message. An infinite legacy.
It’s up to all of us to carry this vision and the spirit of belonging forward into the next millennia. Let us commit to build a sustainable, inclusive and just future for everyone, leaving no one behind.
Bader Anwahi is CEO of the Global Village