To mark the International Day of Tolerance (November 16), His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE, shared an open letter. He shared the link on Twitter explaining that “what makes us proud is not the height of our buildings but rather the openness and tolerance of our nation”. The letter has already recieved thousands of likes on . Here are his powerful words:
“Tomorrow the world will celebrate the International Day of Tolerance. In light of this important occasion, I wanted to share a few heartfelt words with our citizens and residents and particularly with the young people among you.
“I vividly remember my late father Sheikh Rashid’s majlis, over 40 years ago; I remember the nature of the majlis and its attendees. It comprised citizens young and old, fresh graduates and traditional Bedouins, citizens from various tribes and sects, and people of different backgrounds and races.
“They were equal in Sheikh Rashid’s eyes, and treated as such: with equal respect, appreciation and rights. Those sitting closest to Sheikh Rashid were the hardest workers and leaders in their respective fields. Residents from different religions, nationalities and cultures from around the world attended as equals alongside Emiratis. Sheikh Rashid’s majlis embraced them. Dubai embraced them. They reciprocated with their unwavering love, gratitude and loyalty, which we still see today among them and their children.
“And after our Union, I came to know Sheikh Zayed more closely. Our relationship developed into that of a father and his son. I learned about his leadership, about his character, and about his appreciation of humanity. His governance, inspiration and management of people were an invaluable example.
“Sheikh Zayed welcomed everyone into his majlis, regardless of their tribe, sect, or denomination. He was generous with his time and love and, in return, people loved him irrespective of their differences. They all prayed for his soul when he departed us, passing on their admiration of him to their children and grandchildren.
“These ethics are Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid’s greatest legacy to us. What makes us proud of our nation is not the height of our buildings, the breadth of our streets, or the magnitude of our shopping malls, but rather the openness and tolerance of our nation. Our pride stems from the fact that we are a country where everyone thrives equally regardless of their differences, with true love and acceptance: a country where people live and work harmoniously, raising their children to enjoy a future free of the fear of extremism, intolerance or discrimination based on their race, color, religion, sect or ethnicity.
“While we all respect opinion and discussion shared online, we cannot allow it to spill into intolerance. We do not differentiate between one another in the UAE, nor do we use race or nationality to discriminate against one another; we see all people as equal, as God created us. No preference or merit is given to anyone except for those who work diligently, respect our laws and constitution and contribute to our nation.
“Sheikh Zayed imparted his values and wisdom onto the people of the UAE. Therefore, it is no surprise that my brother Mohammed bin Zayed has introduced ‘Moral Education’ to the school curriculum. He wishes to immortalise the message that Sheikh Zayed spread among his sons and daughters in the UAE.
“Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE, and heir to Sheikh Zayed’s wisdom and tolerance, recently introduced an Anti-Discrimination Law in order to protect our community and preserve our legacy of tolerance. We have a Minister of Tolerance, whose imperative it is to follow up on the implementation of this law, especially with a view to online platforms such as social media. We do not want to experience the side effects of sectarianism, racism or hatred in our communities. We do not want to see any discrimination based on color, sect or origin.
“We urge our Minister of Tolerance to apply this law to everyone with equal diligence – young or old, private employee or government official – no one is above the law. The greatest achievements of the UAE are the upstanding morals, values, and principles that the world respects us for and that we wish to pass on to our future generations to come. It is in our best interest to protect our country’s reputation; to promote a tolerant, cooperative and socially cohesive society; to uphold Sheikh Zayed’s legacy and protect the UAE.
“May God be with us, UAE citizens and residents, to serve this great nation.”
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum