Sheikh Mo­hammed bin Rashid awards UAE pi­o­neers of tol­er­ance

The National - News - - FRONT PAGE - PA­TRICK RYAN

Dozens of UAE res­i­dents were hon­oured at an an­nual awards cer­e­mony in Abu Dhabi for their ef­forts to pro­mote peace and tol­er­ance.

More than 3,000 peo­ple were nom­i­nated for the pres­ti­gious UAE Pi­o­neers Award, with the win­ners an­nounced yes­ter­day.

The cer­e­mony, at­tended by Sheikh Mo­hammed bin Rashid, Prime Min­is­ter and Ruler of Dubai, was held at the end of the Gov­ern­ment An­nual Meet­ing in the cap­i­tal.

At the gath­er­ing hun­dreds of lo­cal and fed­eral of­fi­cials come to­gether to dis­cuss new ideas aimed at driv­ing for­ward the coun­try’s so­cial and eco­nomic agenda.

The Pi­o­neers Awards – seen as one of the Emi­rates’ most dis­tin­guished ac­co­lades – were pre­sented to peo­ple and groups judged to have led the way in high­light­ing a spirit of tol­er­ance.

“To­day, we hon­oured teams and he­roes at the end of the Year of Tol­er­ance in the UAE,” Sheikh Mo­hammed tweeted.

Among the high-pro­file win­ners of the award was Saji Cheriyan, a Chris­tian from In­dia who built and paid for a Dh1.3 mil­lion mosque in Fu­jairah last year. The busi­ness­man took on the project to give hun­dreds of Mus­lim work­ers in ac­com­mo­da­tion he owned the op­por­tu­nity to pray.

Mr Cheriyan was joined by the Rev­erend Canon An­drew Thomp­son, who was also pre­sented with the award.

The Angli­can cler­gy­man, who lives and works in Abu Dhabi, in Fe­bru­ary re­leased a book, Cel­e­brat­ing Tol­er­ance: Re­li­gious Di­ver­sity in the United Arab Emi­rates.

“We know there is some

in­tol­er­ance that comes out of the Mid­dle East, but I’d like to chal­lenge that stereo­type, be­ing a Chris­tian leader in the Mid­dle East, and say that Chris­tians are not per­se­cuted in the United Arab Emi­rates.

“In fact, quite the op­po­site,” Rev Thomp­son told The Na­tional ear­lier this year.

Other win­ners of the award in­cluded Noura Al Kaabi, Min­is­ter of Cul­ture and Knowl­edge De­vel­op­ment.

She re­ceived the ac­co­lade for her help in high­light­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally the UAE’s model for build­ing more tol­er­ant, open so­ci­eties.

Sim­i­larly, the UAE Am­bas­sador to Le­banon, Ha­mad Al Shamsi, was hon­oured for spread­ing the no­tion of tol­er­ance to Le­banese so­ci­ety.

In ad­di­tion to awards pre­sented in per­son, there were also post­hu­mous hon­ours for peo­ple who ded­i­cated their lives to help­ing oth­ers.

Ab­dul Salam Rafi, who es­tab­lished the first cen­tre for di­a­betes and the treat­ment of hor­mone imbalance in the UAE, was recog­nised for his work.

“Hon­our­ing role mod­els who con­trib­uted to pro­mot­ing tol­er­ance re­flects the im­por­tance of this value to the UAE lead­er­ship and Emi­rati peo­ple, es­pe­cially with this un­prece­dented level of en­gage­ment from in­di­vid­u­als and en­ti­ties in the Year of Tol­er­ance,” said Sul­tan Fa­had, Gen­eral Co-or­di­na­tor of the UAE Pi­o­neers Ini­tia­tive, which or­gan­ised the cer­e­mony.

Speak­ing at the Gov­ern­ment An­nual Meet­ing, Dr An­war Gar­gash, Min­is­ter of State for For­eign Af­fairs, ac­knowl­edged the huge achieve­ments the coun­try had made in the past year, in­clud­ing wel­com­ing Pope Fran­cis to Abu Dhabi and the sign­ing of the Hu­man Fra­ter­nity Doc­u­ment by the Pope and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb.

“This doc­u­ment crowned the ef­forts that ex­tended over 30 years to ul­ti­mately es­tab­lish the record of tol­er­ance on the land of the UAE,” he said.

The min­is­ter also re­flected on a year in which Hazza Al Man­souri was sent to space and the

To com­ple­ment the suc­cesses achieved through­out 2019, we as­pire to fur­ther progress dur­ing 2020

DR AN­WAR GAR­GASH Min­is­ter of State for For­eign Af­fairs

Emi­rati pass­port was named as be­ing one of the most pow­er­ful in the world in terms of visa-free move­ment.

“This is one of the great­est achieve­ments this year,” he said, re­fer­ring to the space mis­sion. “It as­serts the ap­proach of the UAE to adopt science and en­trepreneur­ship to shape a bet­ter fu­ture. To com­ple­ment the suc­cesses achieved through­out 2019, we as­pire to fur­ther progress dur­ing 2020 and fur­nish solid prepa­ra­tions for host­ing Expo 2020, the largest eco­nomic event in the world or­gan­ised un­der the di­rec­tions of Sheikh Mo­hammed bin Rashid.”


Above, UAE res­i­dents who went above and be­yond to pro­mote tol­er­ance re­ceive awards from Sheikh Mo­hammed bin Rashid, Prime Min­is­ter and Ruler of Dubai, at the Gov­ern­ment An­nual Meet­ing yes­ter­day. Below, left, Min­is­ter of Cul­ture and Knowl­edge De­vel­op­ment Noura Al Kaabi, left, and Sheikha Lat­ifa bint Mo­hammed, Chair­woman of Dubai Cul­ture, at the Pioneer Awards

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