Artistes from various countries perform dances depicting their culture during the Etihad Tolerance Day event at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Dubai: The legacy of both Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum represent the values of tolerance and respect of which the UAE is proud, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said.

In a message on the eve of International Tolerance Day, Shaikh Mohammad recalled his memories of the majlis of his father, the late Shaikh Rashid, who used to receive Emiratis and expatriates of different tribal, sectarian and ethnic backgrounds without discrimination. Shaikh Rashid showed the same respect and appreciation to his citizens, and those who made rich contributions and served the country were very close to him, Shaikh Mohammad said.

“The world is celebrating International Tolerance Day. In light of this important occasion, I wanted to share a few heartfelt words with our citizens and residents and particularly with the young people among you. I vividly remember my late father Shaikh Rashid’s majlis, over 40 years ago; I remember the nature of the majlis and its attendees. It comprised citizens, young and old, fresh graduates and traditional Bedouin, citizens from various tribes and sects, and people of different backgrounds and races.

“They were equal in Shaikh Rashid’s eyes, and treated as such: with equal respect, appreciation and rights. Those sitting closest to Shaikh Rashid were the hardest workers and leaders in their respective fields. Residents from different religions, nationalities and cultures from around the world attended as equals alongside Emiratis. Shaikh Rashid’s majlis embraced them. Dubai embraced them. They reciprocated with their unwavering love, gratitude and loyalty, which we still see today among them and their children.

“After the creation of the Union, I came to know the late Shaikh Zayed more closely. Our relationship developed into that of a father and his son. I learnt about his leadership, about his character, and about his appreciation of humanity. His governance, inspiration and management of people were an invaluable example. Shaikh Zayed welcomed everyone into his majlis, regardless of their tribe, sect, or denomination. He was generous with his time and love and, in return, people loved him irrespective of their differences. They all prayed for his soul when he departed, passing on their admiration of him to their children and grandchildren.

“These ethics are Shaikh Zayed and Shaikh Rashid’s greatest legacy to us. What makes us proud of our nation is not the height of our buildings, the breadth of our streets, or the magnitude of our shopping malls, but rather the openness and tolerance of our nation. Our pride stems from the fact that we are a country where everyone thrives equally regardless of their differences, with true love and acceptance: a country where people live and work harmoniously, raising their children to enjoy a future free of the fear of extremism, intolerance or discrimination based on their race, colour, religion, sect or ethnicity.

“While we all respect opinion and discussion shared online, we cannot allow it to spill into intolerance. We do not differentiate between one another in the UAE, nor do we use race or nationality to discriminate against one another; we see all people as equal, as God created us. No preference or merit is given to anyone except for those who work diligently, respect our laws and constitution and contribute to our nation. Shaikh Zayed imparted his values and wisdom in the people of the UAE. Therefore, it is no surprise that my brother, [His Highness Shaikh] Mohammad Bin Zayed [Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces] has introduced ‘Moral Education’ in the school curriculum. He wishes to immortalise the message that Shaikh Zayed spread among his sons and daughters in the UAE.

“His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and heir to Shaikh Zayed’s wisdom and tolerance, recently introduced an Anti-Discrimination Law in order to protect our community and preserve our legacy of tolerance. We have a Minister of Tolerance, whose mandate it is to follow up on the implementation of this law, especially with a view to online platforms such as social media. We do not want to experience the side effects of sectarianism, racism or hatred in our communities. We do not want to see any discrimination based on colour, sect or origin.

“We urge our Minister of Tolerance to apply this law to everyone with equal diligence — young or old, private employee or government official — no one is above the law. The greatest achievements of the UAE are the upstanding morals, values, and principles that the world respects us for and that we wish to pass on to our future generations to come. It is in our best interests to protect our country’s reputation; to promote a tolerant, cooperative and socially cohesive society; to uphold Shaikh Zayed’s legacy and protect the UAE.

“May God be with us, UAE citizens and residents, to serve this great nation.”