Mar Thoma Church Dubai
Mar Thoma Church in Dubai. It is the tolerance of the land that makes and keeps the UAE blessed always, Church leaders said. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: The UAE is home to people of 200 nationalities, different ethnic groups and religions. They live together in peace, worship in a tolerant land and enjoy the fruit of their labour.

Tolerance in the UAE is based on the country’s founding principles of promoting peaceful coexistence and acceptance among peoples of different nationalities, identities and cultural backgrounds.

“The UAE celebrates tolerance every day of the year because tolerance distinguishes the DNA of our country. Tolerance is a necessary element in our vision for the present and for the future. That vision is a global vision because our country is a global society,” Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, has said.

On the 49th UAE National Day, three church leaders from the Catholic, Anglican and Mar Thoma congregations share their views on tolerance in the country.

UAE — An epitome of tolerance

Fr. T.P. Varghese Chempoly, Parish Priest, St. Michael’s Church, Sharjah

Fr. T.P. Varghese Chempoly

American author and educator Hellen Keller said “the highest result of education is tolerance”. She perhaps meant the education of the heart more than the education of the mind. Tolerance and forgiveness are the two divine values of humanity which by itself is a religion or a way of life. Nowadays, in our pursuit of instant success, we fail to understand the needs of our neighbour and we lose sight of humanity.

The UAE has been the epitome of tolerance and we see this so vividly in our day-to-day life. We have experienced the safety and security measures that are in place even during the coronavirus pandemic. The freedom the UAE offers to more than 200 nationalities to celebrate national or cultural festivities is indeed praiseworthy.

For us, Christians, the historic moment of the Papal Visit in February 2019 is unforgettable. The care, the security and the love the UAE offered to all Christians during the three-day visit has left an indelible memory in our minds and we are hugely indebted for this gesture. The ‘Abrahamic Faith Initiative’ signed by Pope Francis and Imam Ahmed Al Tayeb is another landmark initiative towards building bridges between faiths.

When our world is reeling in the cycle of hatred and intolerance, the UAE offers tolerance, forgiveness and lends a hand of friendship to all. While we enjoy the peace and harmony that the UAE offers, we continue to pray that God may bless this land and the leadership with success in abundance.

Tolerance — An intrinsic part of life in the UAE

Rev. Siju C. Philip, Vicar, Mar Thoma Church, Dubai

Siju C. Philip

Tolerance is a virtue and an intrinsic part of life in the UAE — a home away from home for more than 200 nationalities living peacefully and successfully. The country guarantees the human need to accept and live with others without hate, malice or enmity — a legacy of the founding father Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan that is upheld by the Rulers of the land, making it a place of coexistence and openness to other cultures. In fact, the UAE has dedicated ministries for happiness and tolerance.

It is the tolerance of the land that makes and keeps the UAE blessed always. The joy of the heart, gratitude to God of the faithful and their prayers are an additional blessing to the country. God uses this as a channel of blessing to the faithful community who pray for the prosperity of the land.

The Mar Thoma community in Dubai is indebted and will always remain grateful to the rulers of the land. Since its inception in 1969, it has been given freedom for worship and prayer, and was generously offered a gift of land to build a church. In every prayer the Mar Thoma parish remembers the rulers and the prosperity of the land.

Everybody is given the same protection and respect in the country. A tolerance like his comes from a deep understanding that we have all been created equal by God and it is through unity and oneness that a country can progress. The result is seen in a happy and contended population that works together to achieve the country’s goals. When people from around the world come to the UAE and experience this tolerance, they are also sending out a message that peace in a troubled world is possible.

We praise God for the vision of the rulers of this land and for their perseverance in promoting freedom of worship in the UAE.

A witness to tolerance

Canon Harrison Chinnakumar, Chaplain, Holy Trinity Church, Dubai

On behalf of the Christians who worship at Holy Trinity Church, Dubai, I take this opportunity to wish the Rulers, citizens and residents of UAE a Happy 2020 National Day.

The Holy Trinity Church, Dubai, which celebrated its Golden Jubilee this year, is witness to the tolerance that is celebrated year after year in this beautiful and blessed land. Our church compound hosts worship services in numerous languages from various denominations, and around 20,000 Christians enter the premises every week to worship God in peace and harmony.

The UAE government graciously allows Christians to worship God in the traditions of their respective countries. Even during the pandemic, we are allowed to conduct our prayers, of course while abiding by the COVID-19 protocol. I have been serving here since 2016 and my experience with the government officials has been very enriching and fulfilling. The officials who engage with us are friendly and always forthcoming to help us in the administration of our compound better.

On this occasion, we reverently remember the Rulers of this nation for their commitment, dedication and hard work for nation building and wish them God’s choicest blessings, while assuring them our prayers and continued support.