Three lessons businesses can learn from the UAE’s Year of Tolerance

Accepting different cultures and ideas can help entrepreneurs grow their ventures

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The UAE has become a prime example of how people from diverse backgrounds can live together in peace and harmony. This year marked the Year of Tolerance where we saw the launch of different laws, initiatives, and policies promoting tolerance in the Emirates and abroad. As the year comes to an end, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has honoured 14 personalities and initiatives in the country.

Throughout 2019, we have been constantly reminded of the importance of tolerance, of living in tolerance, and how only through acceptance of others will the world be able to thrive and prosper. For me, the most important takeaway from this year was being reminded how important tolerance is in the business world too. By accepting others, we open our minds to learning opportunities and enhance our business operations at the same time.

How many times have you come across business owners or managers who weren’t tolerant to anyone else’s point of view? There are some who only want to do things their way. How discouraging is it to work in such an environment? More often than not, those who aren’t open to the ideas or advice of those around them often end up facing difficult challenges, losing out in the long run.

As we celebrate our nation’s 48th national day tomorrow, here are three lessons businesses could learn from the UAE’s Year of Tolerance.

Work together to achieve targets

Last week, Sheikh Mohammed honoured 14 personalities and initiatives that contributed to this year’s success, reminding us of the importance of team work. When you build a business, you may feel that you know your enterprise more than others, that you care about it the most, that no one would mentally invest in it as much as you do. But that’s not always good for your business. When you delegate and involve different people, you make room for creativity.

You can then allow yourself to breathe and take a step back to see the bigger picture. As clichéd as this may sound, one hand cannot clap. When we look back over 2019 and see how many celebrations, trips, initiatives, meetings and laws have been passed in honour of this year, we see how so much can be achieved if we put our heads together. When you work with others towards a goal, deadlines are not as daunting and targets seem more achievable.

The importance of dialogue and learning

Just because you know a great way of doing something, it doesn’t mean there aren’t alternatives or equally great ways to achieve the same thing. This brings us to the importance of learning and knowledge. If we limit ourselves to one source of knowledge, we limit our horizons and possibilities too.

Imagine how narrow our world would be if we refused to learn about anything that wasn’t from our region or had to do with our culture? I personally get inspired most when I travel to somewhere completely unexpected or when I read outside my areas of interest. My personality has developed enormously from interacting with people from different cultures and backgrounds. I have my most interesting conversations with people that have nothing to do with my background, and I’ve been adopting this mentality at work. It’s imperative for me to listen to the suggestions and ideas of others, because I know that’s an essential way to develop both personally and professionally.

Tolerance enhances customer relationship

Many businesses involve customer interaction and that often means dealing with people from different backgrounds, cultures, religions and expectations. Customers look for brands that understand them, speak their language and appreciate their point view. Management and customer service are two business divisions that must be tolerant. Team members on the front line need to have open minds, to listen to others and understand where they are coming from. Tolerance translates into respect and being respectful towards your customers and their point of view earns you and your business respect and helps to maintain customer loyalty.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi