Empathy is key to promoting tolerance, intercultural dialogue and peace

Abu Dhabi event enables discussion on identity, morality and compassion

From left: Mina Al-Oraibi, Sheikha Lubna bint Khaled Al Qasimi, Rachid Benzine and Manal Ataya at a cultural conversation at Warehouse421. Courtesy Thinkers and Doers
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Social networks have made younger generations vulnerable to radicalisation, the UAE’s former Minister of State for Tolerance said during a cultural conversation in Abu Dhabi.

Speaking at an event titled Tolerance and Intercultural Dialogue as a Driver for Peace, Sheikha Lubna bint Khaled Al Qasimi said that there is an urgent need to "encourage inter-religious dialogue".

Sheikha Lubna, who also served as Minister of International Cooperation and Development during a distinguished career in politics, also said "if you have citizens who are content, tolerance can emerge."

The event was organised by the think-and-do-tank Thinkers and Doers in co-production with the French Institute in the UAE, the French embassy's cultural department and was held at Warehouse421 in the capital.

In a discussion moderated by Mina Al-Oraibi, The National's Editor-in-Chief, the audience also heard about the importance of empathy.

Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Authority, said that "empathy is the root of tolerance" and that it should be taught in schools around the world.

Moral education lessons were introduced into UAE schools in 2017. The curriculum focuses on instilling tolerance, morality, compassion and community spirit among pupils. The subject is taught without textbooks and there are no exams.

Philosopher and author Rachid Benzine added that in Europe a process of decolonising the imagination needs to take place if tolerance and intercultural dialogue are to prosper.

“Identity cannot be separated from history and memory,” he said. “You can repair an injustice, but you cannot recover from a humiliation.”

Thinkers and Doers will host further cultural conversations in Abu Dhabi next year.

For more information www.thinkers-doers.com