ABU DHABI, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance opened today at Umm Al Emarat Park in Abu Dhabi, the first National Tolerance Festival, organised by the Ministry of Tolerance, in collaboration with the Indian Embassy and the Indian Business and Professional Group - Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Nahyan delivered the following speech during the event: I am humbled to be with you all in this most beautiful Umm Al Emarat Park to celebrate the International Day of Tolerance, which we intend to commemorate annually with our own UAE National Festival of Tolerance.

I thank you, Dr. Shetty, and I thank your colleagues, the leaders of Abu Dhabi's Indian community who have brought us together today in celebration of the International Day of Tolerance and in celebration of the strong and special relations between India and the United Arab Emirates. We in the UAE are proud to call India our friend, a friend with whom we have enjoyed a long, friendly, and productive relationship.

Ambassador Suri, Your Excellencies, Generous Members of the Indian Business and Professional Group Abu Dhabi, Members of the UAE Community, Distinguished Guests. Ladies and Gentlemen: Welcome to the first UAE National Festival of Tolerance which will become an annual tradition celebrated each year on International Tolerance Day. Celebrating International Tolerance Day comes naturally for us in the United Arab Emirates. We celebrate tolerance every day of the year.

Tolerance distinguishes the DNA of our country. Tolerance is a necessary element in our vision for the present and the future. That vision is a global vision because our country is a global society. When our nation's founder, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, united the Emirates and established our nation, he acted on the strong belief that honest, good-faith dialogue among people of diverse cultures and backgrounds will help make our global society peaceful and prosperous. As a result, the United Arab Emirates has produced unparalleled economic growth, accompanied by social and political stability, with constantly broadening opportunities for our country's citizens and residents.

I am sure that all of you here tonight celebrate the fact that the UAE is a tolerant, peaceful, and prosperous global society. We fulfill the obligation to respect and understand the many different cultures and backgrounds of the people living and working in our country. In the UAE, we are convinced that a sound global society embraces universal moral values and virtues shared by all. Thus, it is that citizens of other nations are comfortable trading and negotiating with the UAE, visiting the UAE, and living and working in the UAE. They know that, however different Emirati culture may be from theirs, their cultures and Emirati culture share a reverence for common values and virtues.

Those common values and virtues make tolerance the bridge that connects the many elements of our country's global population. Tolerance allows us to talk with one another and to understand, appreciate and respect our differences. Tolerance allows us to work together to improve the economic and social well-being of our global society. Tolerance allows us all to know and respect the many people of many backgrounds who work with us in building a prosperous, sustainable economy. We all respect each other for our mutual commitment to tolerance.

In the UAE, our greatest fortune has been the vision and wisdom of our country's leaders. Our momentum toward being a tolerant, peaceful, and prosperous society has quickened under the leadership of His Highness the President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahayan, with the formidable support of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai and of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahayan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces. They are leaders who recognize the potential of our (to use the words of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa) "greatly diversified demography" and the obligation to respect human rights for all and to provide opportunities for (and I quote again) "dignified living [for] all who live on our lands."

Ladies and Gentlemen: I have been asked repeatedly over the last few weeks about the new Ministry of Tolerance. Let me take this opportunity to share with you some of my thoughts about my vision for the Ministry as we move forward in establishing its initiatives and programs.

I am working to make the Ministry of Tolerance a true embodiment of the commitment and hard work of all of us in making tolerance an enduring component of our society. We will undertake continued societal initiatives that fight misunderstanding, prejudice, ignorance, fear, and hate. We will promote dialogue and mutual respect, education, and understanding. We will celebrate our shared human values and virtues.

The Ministry of Tolerance will be known as a ministry of action, outcomes, and impact. Already we are working on a notably rich Activities & Events Calendar for 2018 that I will launch officially next month. Today's UAE National Festival of Tolerance is one such activity that we hope will grow in strength from year to year.

The Ministry will undertake all its initiatives, activities, and events with a wide range of partners who will all help us keep the UAE a peaceful, harmonious, and prosperous country. The Ministry of Tolerance will be known as a ministry for the entire population. Its success will be measured by the extent to which it succeeds in embracing all members of our global society. Tolerance requires that we all work together as equal human beings irrespective of nationality, religion, culture, ethnicity, financial status, gender, color, creed, or any other difference. That makes the Ministry of Tolerance unique in our government.

My friends, Today's event is a wonderful example of all of us coming together in supporting and celebrating tolerance in the United Arab Emirates. Today, the leaders of Abu Dhabi's Indian community have brought us together in celebrating the International Day of Tolerance. My friends Mr. Mohan Jashanmal, Dr. Shetty, Mr. Yusuff Ali, and their IPBG colleagues are the very models of tolerance. I know that they join me in agreeing with the declaration of the UN General Assembly (and I quote): that tolerance � the recognition and appreciation of others, the ability to live together with and listen to others � is the sound foundation of any civil society and of peace.

To be sure, tolerance is the sound foundation of this global society that is the United Arab Emirates. The Ministry of Tolerance will protect and strengthen that foundation on which we all stand. As we recognize, respect, and appreciate each other, as we live peacefully together, and as we listen to and talk with one another, we will continue to celebrate an International Day of Tolerance every day of the year and enjoy this UAE National Festival of Tolerance that celebrates our commitment to tolerance.

Thank you all for your support and dedication to a UAE global society that is characterized by tolerance, peace, and prosperity.

My best wishes to you all.

Source: Emirates News Agency