UAE opens new centre to promote co-existence

Manara Centre was established with US-based Anti-Defamation League

Dr Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League with Ali Al Nuaimi, chairman of the Manara Centre, in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Photo: Wam
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The UAE has launched a centre for coexistence to counter extremist ideologies and promote peace and tolerance across the region.

The Manara Centre, based in Abu Dhabi, aims to help lay the groundwork for a future where all are treated equally, regardless of faith or ethnicity.

It has been established in partnership with the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights group based in the US.

The organisation will work with universities in the Middle East and South-East Asia to further its goals, with education programmes to be introduced in August.

Today we are again making history by creating a narrative that will help create a better future for the youth. We will walk the talk
Dr Ali Al Nuaimi

Ten universities are due to introduce scholarships as part of the academic scheme.

The slogan of the centre — named after the Arabic term for source of light — is “from the region for the region”.

Dr Ali Al Nuaimi, chairman of the Manara Centre, spoke of the importance of instilling tolerant values in the next generation.

He spoke of his desire for a future "where everyone is respected regardless of religion, race or ethnicity".

"Our region has suffered a lot throughout the decades and the root cause has always been extremism,” he said.

He highlighted the UAE's move to formally establish diplomatic ties with Israel, through the landmark Abraham Accords signed in September 2020.

“Today we are again making history by creating a narrative that will help create a better future for the youth. We will walk the talk.”

Dr Al Nuaimi stressed the need to bring people together and resist efforts to cause division.

“It is either you let those who have hijacked the minds and hearts of the people in the region for decades or you have the courage and start working on countering what they are doing by promoting the other side," he said.

"The coexistence you see now in terms of security, prosperity and stability, didn't come by itself.

"We work very hard to maintain this — by investing in our education system — by creating laws that show everyone that you are welcome to come live and work in the UAE where you will be respected and cared for but you too have to respect others. If you have differences in your own country then don't bring them into the UAE.

"This is a clear message that we told everyone. Of these 200 nationalities, there are some that disagree but we [UAE] created a culture where you can have your own beliefs but don't undermine or insult others."

In line with these efforts, the UAE is to introduce teaching of the Holocaust in schools for the first time.

Israeli government figures and Jewish community groups welcomed the announcement, made by the UAE embassy in Washington in January.

This month, Abu Dhabi's Abrahamic Family House opened to the public.

The visitor attraction features a mosque, synagogue and church.

President Sheikh Mohamed said its establishment was in line with the nation's celebration of diversity and tolerance.

Dr Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive and national director of the ADL, said his organisation had a long history of fighting against extremism.

"We are the oldest anti-hate organisation in America," he said. "We focus on fighting extremism and hate of all kind — anti-Semitism, racism, Islamophobia."

He said the UAE was the "perfect partner to envision what might be possible" in promoting tolerance.

Updated: March 15, 2023, 1:07 PM