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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Discrimination flies in the face of the UAE’s record of tolerance

Racism must never be tolerated, especially in our schools and nurseries

Diversity is one of the UAE's great strengths. Pawan Singh / The National
Diversity is one of the UAE's great strengths. Pawan Singh / The National

With residents from more than 200 nations, the UAE has an extremely diverse population and a proud record of tolerance. That makes it all the more disappointing that a children’s nursery has advertised for a teacher of “European origin with white skin”.

Racism is the false premise that one racial or ethnic group is inherently superior or inferior to another. Whether expressed openly or insidiously, it is an odious blight that diminishes any society that accommodates it.

The nursery says the advertisement was an attempt to increase diversity among its staff. Diversity is to be applauded, if the purpose is to expose children to multiple ethnicities.

What is not acceptable is to suggest a job can be done only by a person whose skin is a certain colour. Recruitment experts say nationality-specific job adverts are common in the UAE and other globalised hubs.

However, they risk breaching federal anti-discrimination legislation, which prohibits “any distinction, restriction, exclusion or preference among individuals or groups based on the ground of religion, creed, doctrine, sect, caste, race, colour or ethnic origin”. The law must be rigorously enforced and every example of racism, great or small, tackled head-on.

Perhaps the most disturbing feature of this case is the suggestion that the nursery was responding to demand from parents who, it says, “always” ask about the nationality of their child’s teacher. But this is a moot point.

Those who come to the UAE to work do not leave their prejudices behind, but they must not be allowed to exercise them here. In the UAE’s multicultural nurseries and schools, their children will have the benefit of mixing with peers from many backgrounds, broadening their minds and helping to shape the global, culturally aware citizens of tomorrow. It is sometimes acceptable to seek ­certain expertise, such as languages, from a skilled applicant but there is never a legitimate reason for discrimating based purely on skin colour.

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