Speaking at the event held on 15th June 2023, the ambassador emphasized the country’s legacy of acceptance, coexistence, and harmony among people of diverse faiths.
Through his visit, Amb. Alqahtani aimed to inspire and empower the students, igniting their commitment to building a more tolerant and peaceful world.
At the core of Ambassador Alqahtani’s message was the concept of tolerance.
As he said, tolerance goes beyond being a moral duty noting that it is a political and legal obligation, fostering harmony in diversity.
It paves the way for peace by recognizing the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of others. The world observes the International Day of Tolerance each year on 16th November, emphasizing the importance of this virtue in creating a culture of peace.
Seven pillars of National Tolerance Program
In 2016, the UAE government introduced the seven pillars of the national tolerance program, shaping the country’s commitment to tolerance and acceptance.
These pillars include Sheikh Zayed’s legacy and ethics, Islam, the UAE’s Constitution, international conventions, common values, humanity, and archeology and history. By embracing these pillars, the UAE strives to build a society that cherishes diversity and cultivates a spirit of inclusivity.
Cultural Cornerstone: Sheikh Zayed’s Vision
Amb. Alqahtani went on to explain that the UAE’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, played a pivotal role in promoting tolerance and harmony.
As he said, Sheikh Zayed called upon people to embrace tolerance, acceptance, and coexistence, irrespective of color, religion, or beliefs. T
This cultural cornerstone forms the bedrock of the UAE’s national identity since 1971, with adherence to moderate Islam and the promotion of diversity, openness, and religious tolerance.
“The UAE is a nation of tolerance, peace, cultural diversity & coexistence, with over 200 nationalities living peacefully and prosperously side by side,” he noted.
Pope Francis’ Historic Visit and the Document of Human Fraternity
A significant milestone in the UAE’s journey of tolerance was the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis in 2019.
As the first pontiff ever to visit the Arabian Peninsula, Pope Francis met with the Grand Imam Sheikh of al-Azhar Dr. Ahmed al-Tayyib.
Together, they signed the Document of Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together. This document denounces the use of religion to justify violence and opposes all forms of extremism.
It signifies the UAE’s commitment to fostering peaceful coexistence among people of different faiths.
The Abrahamic House of Fraternity
To further promote interfaith dialogue, the UAE proposed the Abrahamic House of Fraternity.
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share a history connected to the patriarch Abraham, making them Abrahamic religions. The Abrahamic House of Fraternity, located in Abu Dhabi, stands as a physical representation of the Document of Human Fraternity.
Amb. Alqahtani disclosed that this interfaith complex which houses a church, a mosque, a synagogue, and a secular welcome center was completed and officially opened to UAE Residents and visitors of different faiths in March this year.
It serves as a space for dialogue, understanding, and mutual respect among people of different faiths.
By sharing the UAE’s journey and its commitment to tolerance and coexistence, Amb. Alqahtani left a lasting impact on the young minds, inspiring them to embrace diversity and build a harmonious future.
After the interactive discussions, Amb. Hazza Alqahtani awarded six academically best performing students from ESSI with smart tablets.