Religious diplomacy to bring about peace for all, says minister

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Tolerance, says UAE is catalyst for world peace

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence. Victor Besa / The National
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Religious diplomacy is the key to resolving many conflicts around the world, the UAE's Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence said.

Speaking at a conference in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak said religious diplomacy was also necessary to effectively deal with critical issues.

“In the United Arab Emirates, we have always strived to serve as a catalyst for peace, tolerance, understanding, and stability in the world,” he said.

“We are aware of the considerable common ground among tenets of different faiths.

“We believe that uniting people of differing faiths, finding common ground among those who come from different cultural traditions, harnessing the core values that are common to all religions … these principles should lead people everywhere to work together for a world of mutual understanding,” Sheikh Nahyan said.

The religious diplomacy conference, organised by Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi and the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy, gathered experts, diplomats and leaders of faiths to discuss challenges and religious engagement as a diplomatic tool.

Recent work in Abu Dhabi includes establishing the Abrahamic Family House, an interfaith complex in Abu Dhabi that includes a mosque, church and synagogue.

Nickolay Mladenov, director general of the diplomatic academy, told The National that tolerance and acceptance could only be maintained through mutual respect and understanding of the different faiths.

He said that it was not only about “tolerance” but also acceptance and respect.

“The UAE is a country that is known for its tolerance and its acceptance of different faith and different cultures but that acceptance must come with the necessary respect,” he said.

“I prefer the word coexistence and acceptance [over tolerance] because acceptance means that you recognise the differences … and you accept to live together with them, despite the different cultural traditions.”

He also spoke of the importance of balancing openness with preserving national traditions in countries.

“The basis for the UAE's policy on tolerance is twofold: one is this acceptance of diversity, but it is also respect for heritage,” he said.

Speakers at the conference on Wednesday also underlined that the UAE's acceptance of different religions was genuine.

Brahmavihari Swami, head of BAPS Hindu Mandir, the Hindu temple under construction just outside Abu Dhabi city, said the new place of worship was a landmark for the country.

“One thing I believe very strongly, that even the Abrahamic houses, or the temple, cannot be 'show' temples or 'show' places of worship. They're not there to show the world that we have them,” he said.

Updated: October 30, 2022, 9:02 AM