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Epitome of Tolerance and beacon of happiness
December 02, 2017
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In 2017, the promotion of the values of tolerance and acceptance remained high on the UAE Government’s agenda, as it continuously reaffirmed its strong determination to spread those values amongst the people of all cultures and religions, both nationally and internationally.

One of the most notable gestures towards this cause was the decision by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, in June to rename the mosque in Abu Dhabi carrying his name to the ‘Mary, Mother of Jesus Mosque’. The decision gained widespread praise from citizens and residents, as well as from local and international officials.

Among those commenting was British politician Lord Alton of Liverpool, the founder of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group for Freedom of Religion and Belief.

“The naming of the mosque is powerful evidence of the commitment of the United Arab Emirates to the principles of religious tolerance. The Virgin Mary is of enormous importance in the beliefs of both Christians and Muslims, while Jesus is highly respected as a prophet in Islam,” he said.

TOLERANCE AWARD

The country’s continual efforts to promote religious tolerance and understanding were also demonstrated when in July, a conference in Abu Dhabi brought together the congregations of Mosques, Churches, and other houses of worship to enhance relations of mutual respect.

Hilf al-Fudul, or the Alliance of Virtue, gathered representatives of the three Abrahamic religions. Clergymen from the three religions met to establish a human ethical code, as a first step towards issuing an internationally binding document that combats anti-Muslim sentiment, antisemitism and all forms of hatred, discrimination and bigotry.

Efforts to reinforce the work of the National Programme for Tolerance, which was launched in 2016, also continued. In June, an International Institute for Tolerance was established by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The Law on the Establishment of the International Institute for Tolerance included the launching the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Tolerance Award, which is administered in accordance with the provision of the law, and establishing its statutes in correlation with the Institute.



A JOURNEY OF HAPPINESS

The happiness of society remains a primary goal of the UAE leadership, and in 2017 the government continued its efforts to achieve people’s happiness and satisfaction through the provision of high-quality, efficient and smart government services, and by the launching of a number of initiatives to spread awareness on how incorporating positive values such as generous acts of giving, practicing tolerance, and leading a healthy and creative lifestyle, can all lead to achieving happiness.

This year, the National Programme for Happiness and Positivity, under the leadership of Ohoud bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing, developed the world’s first ‘Happiness Policy Manual’.

According to the minister, the manual seeks, first and foremost, to introduce the “science of happiness” to the policy-making process, proposing innovative ways to incorporate it into current and future public policies and then evaluating their effect on the happiness and wellbeing of society.

In March, The United Arab Emirates University, UAEU, opened the Emirates Centre for Research on Happiness in collaboration with the National Happiness and Positivity Programme, a first of its kind in the UAE and Middle East.



HAPPIEST COUNTRY

2017 also saw the ranking of the UAE as the happiest country in the Arab world for the third consecutive year in the UN World Happiness Report 2017.

Commenting on the report, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum tweeted that the UAE ranked first in the Arab region and was 21st globally, advancing eight points in the rankings.

“The UAE came first in the Arab world for the third consecutive year and the Emirati people are ranked 21st as the happiest people in the world. We are also ranked first globally regarding the satisfaction of residents from other countries,” he said.

Reaffirming the UAE leadership’s determination to achieve happiness in UAE society, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, during his participation in the “Journey of Happiness” event on the Dubai Water Canal in March on the occasion of International Day of Happiness, said, “Happiness is a human value and the UAE leadership is working to generalise this value and entrench it as lifestyle for all members of the Emirati society.”

300 international specialists in the field of happiness gathered in February at the Global Happiness Dialogue, the first international event of its kind, held before the World Government Summit. The event featured workshops and sessions on various topics such as stimulating the policies, way of measuring, and the science of happiness and ways of achieving happiness in cities.

The outcome of these workshops and sessions were compiled in a manual and shared to help governments raise the level of happiness across nations.

In March, the UAE announced the creation of the first World Happiness Council with a remit to address increasing global challenges and transformations and create new policies and approaches that will create a more hopeful future.

Speaking on the occasion, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said that government work is at the forefront of the required changes to achieve people’s happiness, “The UAE, under the leadership of my brother, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, believes that the role of governments is to achieve happiness for their people, by enabling them to choose the tools and means and by providing an environment that accommodates their hopes, ambitions and dreams.”

He added, “Happiness is a good contagion, and we want the peoples of the world to be affected by it, to enjoy its goodness.

WAM

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