New cultural mission will spread the UAE's message of tolerance to the world

The latest initiative will help further the country's goal of becoming a 'soft superpower'

Culture and Knowledge Development at the UAE-China Week in Beijing. WAM
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The announcement that the UAE will set up cultural offices overseas arrives towards the end of the Year of Tolerance. The aim of this mission is to develop closer ties with other nations through art and culture and underlines many of the values the country stands for, including diversity, humanity and tolerance.

High praise also came from Pope Francis who backed the move to set up cultural offices overseas

The values of tolerance must be enmeshed in society and institutionalised at a government level to cement the country’s position as a leader and “incubator of tolerance”, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai said today.

One of the key tasks of these new cultural offices overseas will be to spread a message of shared humanity, which is in keeping with the legacy of Sheikh Zayed, the UAE’s Founding Father, who once said that “tolerance and forgiveness are a duty”.

There are numerous such instances of the UAE's spirit of tolerance and diversity that need to be shared with a broader audience, as Minister of State Zaki Nusseibeh rightly pointed out. "The violence that we see on a daily basis, the hatred, the division, the exclusion of others, we need to break down these barriers and the Emirates is very active in doing this," he said.

The UAE has made great strides in establishing positive values that help its myriad communities prosper and for the nation to meet its goals. We can proudly talk of the establishment of the International Institute for Tolerance and the promulgation of the Anti-Discrimination and Hate Act and we can also cite the plans for an Abrahamic Faith House and a new Hindu Temple in Abu Dhabi. There are many other examples, too.

These measures contribute in no small way to the global standing of the UAE and help it towards reaching its goal of becoming a "soft superpower". They also enhance its burgeoning reputation as a regional capital for ideas, culture, art, tourism and tolerance.

Last year, Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, described soft power as a “door opener” for the UAE’s diplomats. He spoke about the Emirates taking the lead in this approach to international relations and talked about how it can be harnessed to communicate the country’s vision on issues such as radicalisation and extremism.

High praise also came from Pope Francis who backed the move to set up cultural offices overseas. His words carry weight, more so as this February he was the first leader of the Roman Catholic Church to visit the Arabian Peninsula.

While receiving an Emirati delegation in Madrid, currently hosting the United National Climate Change Conference, Pope Francis said that he had good memories of his visit to the UAE. He told the delegation that the country is a role model of coexistence and human fraternity and represents a meeting place among civilisations and cultures.

That is one of the messages that the UAE’s cultural offices will endeavour to spread across the world. It is important work they will undertake.

Too often the Arab world can be portrayed in other parts of the international community in unfavourable or even simplistic terms. This new cultural mission will not only counter those false portraits, but more importantly, it will celebrate the UAE's rich heritage. There is much to be proud of and to shout about as we seek to further enhance, as Mr Nusseibeh said, "the bridges of friendship".