Dubai: The World Tolerance Summit in Dubai on Thursday heard from speakers how the leaders of Gulf countries like Bahrain and the UAE have been upholding the values of tolerance and coexistence for centuries.

Two speakers from these countries talked about this at a session on “Instilling Communal Peace and Harmony Within Societies.”

Dr Shaikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Duaij Al Khalifa, chairman of the board of trustees, King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence in Bahrain said countries cannot develop without promoting tolerance.

“There are countries where leaders don’t believe in development but look for inciting differences and this would make such countries go into internal conflicts including civil war and this would hinder development and peaceful coexistence because development and tolerance are very related.”

“We should be optimistic here for the simple reason that we are having great political leaders in Bahrain and the Gulf countries who strongly believe in coexistence and tolerance and they have proved this strongly in the recent years.”

He cited the existence of a century-old Hindu temple and the establishment of the first church in 1898 in Bahrain as examples of the existence of tolerance in his country for centuries.

“We have a long history of tolerance…and it was not the result of international or external pressures.”

Al Khalifa said the UAE leaders are continuing the journey of tolerance upheld by founding father Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

“In both the countries, we know human rights and we believe in the importance of tolerance freedom,” he stated.

Security is based on tolerance

Brigadier General Dr. Salah Obaid Mohammad Al Ghoul Al Salam, director general of community protection and crime prevention at the UAE Ministry of Interior echoed similar opinions.

He said he was asked if tolerance is a luxury in the UAE.

“It is not. We have clear strategies and performance indicators to evaluate tolerance because security is based on the tolerance in the community.”

He said the coexistence of more than 200 nationalities in the UAE is seen as an opportunity to promote tolerance.

“Every nationality, sect and religion has their positive and negative traditions. We learn from all the positive aspects and gain knowledge that promote security.”

He said there are various initiatives to support the human fraternity and for maintaining peace and stability in the society.

The officer said councils for coexistence conduct regular meetings at places of worship, community organisations and houses of residents. Officials from the interior ministry regularly visit labour camps and the ministry uses 11 languages to cater to various community groups, he pointed out.

“From top to bottom, the government and the officials are one team,” said the officer.