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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 23 January 2019

UAE names 2019 the Year of Tolerance to reflect Zayed's vision

Leaders say the year will honour Sheikh Zayed's belief that the UAE should welcome all nationalities and religions

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed is accompanied by hundreds of people on the Walk of Tolerance in Umm Al Emarat Park, Abu Dhabi, in October. Wam
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed is accompanied by hundreds of people on the Walk of Tolerance in Umm Al Emarat Park, Abu Dhabi, in October. Wam

LATEST: From Sikh to Christian, religious leaders gear up for UAE's Year of Tolerance

The UAE government announced that 2019 will be officially proclaimed the Year of Tolerance to strengthen the nation’s role of encouraging stability and prosperity in the region.

Leaders took to social media to announce the move, following on from the Year of Zayed in 2018 and the Year of Giving in 2017.

The announcement came days after it was revealed Pope Francis will visit Abu Dhabi in February, a sign that the UAE is welcoming and tolerant of all religions.

In November, a World Tolerance Summit in Dubai attracted regional leaders and national figures.

The President, Sheikh Khalifa, declared 2019 the Year of Tolerance, highlighting the UAE as a global capital for acceptance through its legislative and policy goals.

"Instilling values of tolerance carries on Sheikh Zayed's legacy and teachings," Sheikh Khalifa said on Saturday.

“It is one of the most important attributes that we can impact on our people and the global community to ensure the safety, stability and happiness of peoples across the world.”

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - December 04, 2018: The UAE athletes. The Local Organizing Committee of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will be hosting its first major Media Summit ahead of the World Games due to take place from 14 - 21 March 2019. Tuesday the 4th of December 2018 at The Westin, Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
The government this year stressed the need to ensure people of all abilities are recognised in society and in the workplace. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Those thoughts were echoed on social media, with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, tweeting: “Dear brothers and sisters, the President... has issued a directive to announce 2019 as the Year of Tolerance in the UAE, with the aim of solidifying the international role that the country plays as the capital of co-existence and meeting of civilisations.

“Tolerance is the cornerstone of advanced societies, intellectually and humanely, and is one of the tools of empowering civilisations and ensuring stability and flourishing of nations.

"In 2019, we will endeavour to establish this value and lead the intellectual, media and research production movements to reaffirm this value in our region, which has suffered a lot because of extreme allegiance to ideologies or factions or parties.”

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said the "world today needs universal human values to be promoted for the sake of future generations".

It was announced the theme will be an extension of the Year of Zayed, as it upholds the values of tolerance and co-existence that the Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed, established among the people of the UAE.

This year, the UAE announced it will be a global co-ordinator for co-operation within a new Global Tolerance Alliance to promote acceptance around the world.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed meets Pope Francis in Rome in September 2016. The two will meet again in Abu Dhabi in 2019. Ryan Carter / Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi 
Pope Francis's visit to the UAE will recognise residents' freedom to worship any religion. Ryan Carter / Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi

An agreement on tolerance was signed by dignitaries from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and the US – as well as the Emirates Human Rights Association, Higher Colleges of Technology and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation.

The papal visit will be marked with a Mass at Zayed Sports City on February 5, where more than 100,000 people are expected to attend.

Pope Francis will also visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Founder's Memorial.

The Special Olympic World Games, to be held in Abu Dhabi from March 14-21 in 2019, are also expected to feature heavily in a year-long series of events promoting tolerance.

It will be the first time that the Games will be held in the Mena region, and are expected to attract more than 7,500 athletes from around the world and an estimated 500,000 spectators.

Athletes will compete in a variety of events at 11 venues in Abu Dhabi. These include Zayed Sports City, the National Exhibition Centre, the Yas Marina Circuit and the Abu Dhabi Yacht and Sailing Club.

Other venues are the New York University Abu Dhabi, Khalifa International Bowling Centre and the Armed Forces Officers Club.

Tolerance-themed events and publications will continue throughout 2019.

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