Tolerance Ministry plans certification for companies

The UAE’s Ministry of Tolerance plans to introduce special certification for local companies to recognise their commitment to the principles of tolerance, the Minister, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, said last night.

He was addressing a joint meeting of local business groups, including those bringing together business people from Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia and Ireland.

Sheikh Nahyan singled out two particular initiatives being developed by the Ministry to mark the UAE’s ‘Year of Tolerance'.

One is the launching of a Global Tolerance Alliance, he told guests at a dinner held at Abu Dhabi’s Royal Meridien Hotel. "The Alliance is an international non-governmental platform for good corporate citizens, NGOs, philanthropic organisations and committed individuals who will come together to promote tolerance internationally."

"Many of you in this room are global citizens working for multi-national corporations and the Global Tolerance Alliance should be of considerable interest to you," Sheikh Nahyan said.

"Another initiative, in its early stage of development that is also aimed at the business community," he added, "is the development of what we call ‘T-Corp certification’, where T-Corp is an abbreviation for Tolerant Corporation."

Referring to the concept of a ‘B-Corp’, a certification system popular in the USA and elsewhere aimed at ensuring that companies are good corporate citizens in terms of their social and environmental performance, Sheikh Nahyan said, "My ministry is keen to add tolerance to such a framework to create a ‘T-Corp’ certification system."

The Year of Tolerance in the UAE, the Minister said, is an initiative that has several key objectives. Amongst these, he said, was the desire to emphasise that tolerance, which he described as "the legacy of the country’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan," has made it possible for the country to achieve success and to make progress.

Another objective is to celebrate "the rich diversity of the UAE in all its forms," with a third being to remind people that "tolerance is not an inherited state."

"It is a virtue and a value that requires constant nurturing and support. In that regard, it is like a garden that requires constant fertilising, watering and weeding to yield its maximum benefits," Sheikh Nahyan added.

A fourth objective, he said, is to demonstrate to the world that "the UAE is adhering to a daring but enlightened model for creating a peaceful, pluralistic, and prosperous global society."

He urged his audience to come together "to join our individual and collective efforts and abilities to help us move away from suspicion and fear, and toward mutual trust and acceptance."

Minister’s speech

Friends and Colleagues, Business and Professional Leaders, Ladies and Gentlemen:

One of the reasons I consider this meeting to be so important is the increasing necessity for global understanding and respect for human life. Today, the horrific tragedy in New Zealand, and the numerous ethnic, religious, cultural and national conflicts in what were thought to be some of the safest countries in the world are very much on our minds. It is clear that only by thinking and working together can we collectively reach the promise that human ingenuity offers for a peaceful and prosperous global society. I am, of course, highly influenced in my thinking by the historic visits to the UAE last month of His Holiness Pope Francis and His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Sheikh Ahmad El Tayyeb. Those visits were a great tribute to His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who worked tirelessly to make them possible. The visits of the Pope and the Grand Imam focused attention on promoting human fraternity around the globe. They issued the Abu Dhabi Declaration on Human Fraternity that exemplifies the moral force that we all must exert if we are to meet the great global challenges of this twenty-first century.

Those historic visits reinforced my strong belief in the power of tolerance and human engagement to shape the present and the future and to help solve many of the world’s great global challenges. I am a strong believer that tolerance and human fraternity will help us recognise the moral imperative for improving the health and safety of all individuals.

· Tolerance and human fraternity will help improve education and encourage innovation so that all citizens can contribute to a knowledge-based economy.

· Tolerance will enable cooperation, understanding, and mutual respect among different groups and cultures.

· Tolerance will help us deal with important environmental issues.

· Tolerance will help solve conflicts and political disagreements.

· Tolerance will make us champions for human rights and human obligations, and,

· Tolerance will assist in preserving our own heritage, and strengthening our own cultures, thereby making us all proud of our national identities.

In short, it is tolerance that will help define our individual and collective responsibilities to work together in order to take up the banner of peace and preservation of human dignity and development of our local and global communities.

My Friends and Colleagues:

We recognise, more clearly than ever before, that all of us have important roles to play in order to achieve peace and harmony in our communities and around the world. We must understand that our shared beliefs, values, and ideas can bind us closer together when they are forcefully and passionately articulated.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the need for action now is greater than ever. That is why we need to join our individual and collective efforts and abilities to help us move away from suspicion and fear, and toward mutual trust and acceptance. Tolerance and sensitivity are not only values that define civilised behaviour but are also requirements for global understanding.

To that end, we are proud that the United Arab Emirates is a true global community. People from all parts of the world, from different cultures and with diverse religious beliefs, live in peace and harmony within our borders. I am certain that all of you, who live and work in the UAE, observe these principles of tolerance in action and are beneficiaries of the safety, stability and prosperity it provides to all of us.

The Year of Tolerance in the UAE is an important initiative that aims to achieve some major objectives:

First: The Year of Tolerance seeks to Emphasise that tolerance, the legacy of the country’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, has enabled the country’s success and progress.

Second: The Year of Tolerance will Celebrate the rich diversity of the UAE in all of its forms. The Year of Tolerance finds its origins in the concept of "Tolerance for All" that defines our progress in the UAE. All means All - all segments of society, all ages, all nationalities, all religions and all regions of the country.

Third: The Year of Tolerance Reminds us that tolerance is not an inherited state. It is a virtue and a value that requires constant nurturing and support. In that regard it is like a garden that requires constant fertilising, watering and weeding to yield its maximum benefits.

Fourth: The Year of Tolerance Demonstrates to the world that the UAE is adhering to a daring but enlightened model for creating a peaceful, pluralistic, and prosperous global society.

The Year of Tolerance, ladies and gentlemen, will enlarge our collective capacity and ability to deal effectively with discrimination and bias in the world. Because of our positive experience with tolerance, we in the United Arab Emirates are eager to join with other countries and organisations in support of tolerance, pluralism, peaceful and mutually beneficial coexistence. We are ready to share our experience and to gain from others a wider understanding of the universal power of tolerance. Of course, this wonderful dinner meeting gives us that opportunity.

In the UAE, we are greatly indebted to the wisdom and foresight of our leaders to establish a Ministry of Tolerance and to declare this year as the Year of Tolerance. Under the wise and visionary leadership of His Highness the President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is strongly supported by the Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and by His Highness, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, the UAE has established several important initiatives. These initiatives send a message to humankind, here and abroad, that valuing, encouraging, and supporting tolerance requires enlightened leadership, both public and private. It requires effort and support from all of us.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

In the Year of Tolerance, I am confident that together we can develop rewarding public and private and cross-national partnerships that promote tolerance for all in the UAE and around the world. I believe that involving both the national and the expatriate communities can inspire people to initiate improvements in the quality of life for everyone.

In thinking about how expatriates and nationals might get to know and respect one another, it seems to me that we must create opportunities for both sides to join in activities of mutual interest that would connect one to the other. In my ideal world, I would like expats and nationals to come together around important issues such as the role of tolerance in shaping our lives, the contributions of various expatriate communities to our national progress and the relationship between the government and private sectors in our national development. So, what type of activities and events might result in these outcomes?

Immediately I think of arts festivals, poetry contests and museum exhibits that would focus on themes of tolerance, such as peace, mutual understanding, compassion, human dignity, environmental sustainability and respect for those who may be different. I think of sharing one’s language skills to tutor students in languages and cultures other than their own such as Arabic, English, or even Chinese or French. I think of humanitarian issues such as the plight of refugees, efforts to improve global health or competitions and tournaments such as chess or football, tennis, cricket or golf, quiz events that focus on global knowledge, and food cook-offs that are shared across nationalities, cultures, and languages.

Some aspects of this endeavour would call for new research and surveys. Occasional publications would be important. Public forums would take many forms: panel discussions, individual presentations from community and business leaders and from the rank and file, question-and-answer sessions that draw on audience participation, and digital blogs on different topics. Of course, you will think of other such activities and I hope and ask that you feel compelled to share your ideas with those of us in the Ministry of Tolerance.

Dear Business and Professional Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen:

The Ministry of Tolerance focuses its efforts on endorsing the virtue or attitude of tolerance, equipping people with the knowledge and skills to live tolerant lives, and promoting positive acts of tolerance towards others. We believe that the projects on our agenda will promote these virtues, prepare people to live tolerantly, and encourage acts of tolerance.

Currently, we in the Ministry of Tolerance are undertaking many tolerance-related activities. A sampling of these includes:

· The National Festival of Tolerance: an annual celebration of the benefits of tolerance.

· A Tolerance in the Schools programme for building tolerance through partnerships involving students, teachers and parents in both public and private schools.

· The Champions of Tolerance Programme: an intensive three-day tolerance empowerment programme, followed by voluntary and public service projects that promote tolerance in the community.

· A Global Tolerance Alliance.

· The Zayed Lighthouses of Tolerance programme that involves the creation of community engagement centres to be spread across the Emirates.

· Sport participation to spread tolerance through friendly competition.

· Programmes to strengthen the active involvement of families in promoting tolerance as they shape young hearts and minds.

· Projects to draw expatriate communities and Emirati communities into constructive, cooperative community development initiatives.

· The Hay Festival Abu Dhabi which is a partnership with the Hay Festival in the United Kingdom. This will be an important symbol of the enduring cooperation and friendship between our two countries.

One of our initiatives, the Global Tolerance Alliance, should be of particular interest to you. The Alliance is an international non-governmental platform for good corporate citizens, NGOs, philanthropic organisations and committed individuals who will come together to promote tolerance internationally. Many of you in this room are global citizens working for multi-national corporations and the Global Tolerance Alliance should be of considerable interest to you.

Another initiative, in its early stage of development that is also aimed at the business community, is the development of what we call ‘T-Corp certification’, where T-Corp is an abbreviation for Tolerant Corporation. Some of you may be familiar with the concept of a ‘B-Corp’, which is a certification system popular in the USA and elsewhere aimed at ensuring that companies are good corporate citizens in terms of their social and environmental performance. My ministry is keen to add tolerance to such a framework to create a ‘T-Corp’ certification system.

The expatriate communities in the UAE, which include a wide and diverse group of business leaders and entrepreneurs, are vital to the ongoing tolerant and peaceful prosperity that we all share. We are all in this together. My ministry stands ready to work with all of you to promote and embed tolerance as a natural way of living and working in the UAE and beyond its borders.

I seek your recommendations for involving you in our projects and initiatives. I see our working together on this endeavour as a declaration of our shared pride in the United Arab Emirates as a unique and successful model of peaceful and productive co-existence among people of diverse backgrounds who are committed to live in peace and happiness. I believe that you will help us seize this opportunity to enrich the lives of everyone who lives and works in the United Arab Emirates.

Thank you.

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