Achieving happiness via tolerance
Regional and global media have for the past few days spoken about the newly-established Ministry for Happiness in the UAE
Regional and global media have for the past few days spoken about the newly-established Ministry for Happiness in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Some say it is a formality, while others consider it an administrative luxury. Some media outlets are jealous of the UAE, and so do not comprehend the meaning of this development.
Fortunately, last week Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum wrote an op-ed entitled: “Why UAE ministers for happiness, tolerance and the future?” It is difficult to convince whoever does not want to believe that these projects are real and necessary rather than a luxury or display.
There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, there is widespread regional unrest, with civil war and failed states surrounding the Gulf. Secondly, only those who live in the UAE during this era of progress can comprehend the stunning pace of development.
The UAE leads the way in the region when it comes to opposing hateful and sectarian rhetoricTurki Al-Dakhil
“The last few years in the Middle East taught us that we need to learn, teach and practice tolerance, to instil it in our children through education and practice and to devise laws, policies and an entire system of programs and initiatives for it,” Sheikh Mohammad wrote.
“Yes, we learnt this from the hundreds of thousands who were killed and the millions of people who ended up as refugees or displaced in the past five years due to prejudice, hatred and lack of sectarian, ideological, cultural and religious tolerance.”
The UAE leads the way in the region when it comes to opposing hateful and sectarian rhetoric. It has devised strict laws to confront sectarianism, which have been applied several times. For example, a man was punished for insulting a religion before the new year.
The UAE has the most diverse population in the region, perhaps in the world, as it has more than 200 nationalities with over a dozen religions. People there are respected and coexist within laws that organize their lives and punish whoever violates them. There is neither favoritism nor courtesy for those who spread hatred, violence and terrorism.
“Tolerance is not just a word we must hail but it must have indications, studies and policies. It must be solidified via behavior in society to safeguard the future and maintain the progress we’ve achieved,” Sheikh Mohammad wrote.
Slogans of tolerance are present in all Arab countries and media. There are countless books on tolerance. However, tolerance is protected by transforming it into an administrative institution that handles and spreads it throughout society while devising strict laws.
The Emirati experience has thrilled and inspired all Gulf countries. Perhaps the UAE will influence other countries to develop the means to end sectarianism and narrow-minded identification. Without tolerance, we will neither achieve happiness nor leadership, and will remain underdeveloped.
This article was first published by Al-Bayan newspaper on Mar. 02, 2016.
Turki Al-Dakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.