Dubai: The first-ever Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Tolerance Award was presented to winners in separate categories on Wednesday at a ceremony at Dubai Opera.
Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Media Council, and Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance presented the awards, organised by Dubai-based International Institute for Tolerance (IIT).
The biennial award’s three debut categories — human thought, literary creativity, aesthetic arts (and two new categories of youth projects and new media) each carry a Dh1 million cash prize.
The two new categories will be awarded in the next cycle.
On Wednesday, in Literary Creativity, the prize went to Dr Hubertus Hoffmann, founder and president of World Security Network Foundation, from Germany.
In Human Thought, Dr Abdulla Bin Abdul Aziz Al Rabeeah from Saudi Arabia, who is advisor to the royal court and supervisor general of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre, was the winner.
Rania Ali, a women and refugee rights activist from Syria, who is now based in Austria, won the Aesthetic Arts category.
The award bears the name of its founder and patron, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The ceremony was attended by a number of UAE ministers, representatives from various communities, including Sikhs and Dawoodi Bohras, as well as senior officials and students.
The event began with a short video showing various problems, from wars to poverty, civil disorder to pollution. It ended with saying tolerance is the one solution for all such problems.
The clip was followed by a performance of the song ‘Heal the World’, sung in multiple languages at the ceremony.
Videos featuring the three winners were also shown.
Tens of thousands of individuals and entities worldwide with outstanding achievements in promoting tolerance were nominated for the “first-of-its-kind award”.
Nominations were made by registering on the award’s website, www.mbrtawards.ae, in accordance with the criteria and conditions approved by the award’s board of trustees. The award, to be held every two years, had been initiated by Shaikh Mohammad in 2019 in line with the UAE’s Year of Tolerance.
It also aims to encourage entrepreneurship in establishing “tolerance norms” at the national and international level, in addition to promoting interfaith dialogue and portraying the true image of Islam as a religion of tolerance.
The closing date for nominations had been extended to January 15 because of the high uptake. A day later, IIT had started evaluations. Its Technical Advisory Committee evaluated all nominations received through the award’s website from around the world across the five categories and forwarded a shortlist of candidates to the jury.
Mazen Hayek, Group Commercial, CSR and PR Director at MBC, chairs the committee. Members include Dr Suaad Al Oraimi, author and Assistant Professor of Sociology at United Arab Emirates University; Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation; Dr Yousef Sharab, researcher and academic specialising in scientific research curriculums; and Dr Saeed Amin Mohammad Nasef, Professor of Sociology and Head of the Department of Sociology and Social Work at Ajman University.
Earlier this month, Major General Ahmad Khalfan Al Mansoori, the award’s secretary-general, had said: “The award aligns with the vision of the UAE to instil positive values in society. The overwhelming number of nominations from around the world shortly after our announcement emphasised the importance of the initiative. It reflects the keenness of individuals and entities to reject violence and extremism and embrace love and solidarity in their everyday lives.”
Last month, Dr Hamad Al Shaikh Ahmad Al Shaibani, IIT’s managing director, had said: “The award seeks to promote the value of tolerance that the UAE holds dear, and reflects the keenness of the country’s leadership to celebrate global efforts to instil positive values in society.”
The award comes under the umbrella of Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives in Dubai.