Shaikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Tolerance and human fraternity have the capability to solve most of the world’s great challenges, UAE’s minister of tolerance said on Sunday.

“I believe that … Yes, we live in difficult times with new and unforeseen challenges confronting local and global communities. But tolerance and human fraternity possess the power to deal with all these challenges,” said Shaikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Tolerance, while delivering the opening speech at the Global Conference on Human Fraternity in the capital.

As societies around the globe strive to improve their quality of life, unfortunately, they confront a myriad of challenges, he said. Issues such as global climate change, waste management, recycling, adequate food, potable water, and renewable energy sources become increasingly important to sustaining the quality of our environment. Many adults around the world, most of them women, lack even the most basic literacy skills, and many children currently are not in school. Further, and sadly, there are many conflicts over geography, resources, water, religion or political beliefs in many parts of the world, Shaikh Nahayan pointed out.

Ahmad Abu Al Geit and fellow panellists at the Global Conference on Human Fraternity in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

The conference, a gathering of around 700 religious clerics and scholars from the all over the world, is held to mark the three-day visit of Pope Francis to the UAE.

Shaikh Nahayan said: “You will constitute, in effect, a global alliance dedicated to identifying actions that will reaffirm shared values and combat the destructive forces of extremism and terrorism, poverty and malnutrition, degradation of women, environmental abuse, illiteracy, prejudice and hate, scientific and technological ignorance, distrust and oppression, lack of sanitation and health care, and greedy selfishness that oppose the very idea of a human fraternity.”

As the minister of Tolerance, he said, “I stand before you as living evidence of our continuing commitment to tolerance.”

It will be tolerance and human fraternity that will help improve education and encourage innovation so that all citizens can contribute to a knowledge-based economy, he said.

“It will be tolerance and human fraternity that will make us champions for human rights and human obligations … and will assist in preserving our own heritage, and strengthening our own cultures, and making us all proud of our national identities.”

He said the conference, and its outcomes, will become known as a landmark event in the improvement of global human relations and fraternity.

I stand before you as living evidence of our continuing commitment to tolerance. It will be tolerance and human fraternity that will make us champions of human rights … and will assist in preserving our own heritage, and strengthening our own cultures, and making us all proud of our national identities.

- Shaikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Tolerance

Many other prominent leaders also addressed the conference.

Ahmad Abu Al Geit, secretary-general of the Arab League, said the increased connectivity among human beings has not translated into brotherhood and harmonisation. “We still find sectarianism, racism and tribalism which are all showing their ugly faces and taking across the world.”

He said religion is not the sole reason for radicalism and extremism. “We should never accept the notion that it is the main culprit behind certain[violent]incidents.”

Extremism and hatred have always been present in a number of political ideologies — in the last century millions of people were killed in wars [not due to religious differences] such as the two world wars.

Islam and Christianity speak to all human beings without any discrimination. They speak to the soul and the essence of human beings, and therefore such religions are a major driving force on promoting the idea of human dignity, Al Geit said.

“Tolerance is not just about loving the other who is different from us but to also respect them because they are individuals who deserve respect,” he said.

Bishop Yulius, General Bishop of Coptic Orthodox Churches, said communities must build bridges with each other and give priority to the culture of dialogue rather than the culture of the wall and the culture of conflict.

The UAE’s of culture of peace, tolerance and love for all are part of its heritage founded by tShaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, he said.

A number of sessions on different subjects were held at the conference. Noora Mohammad Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, moderated a session that highlighted the importance of including women in projects and initiatives for community development.

700 Scholars

The Global Conference on Human Fraternity, a gathering of around 700 religious clerics and scholars from the all over the world, was held to mark the three-day visit of Pope Francis to the UAE. A number of sessions on different subjects were held at the conference.

Noora Mohammad Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, moderated a session that highlighted the importance of including women in projects and initiatives for community development.