Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, has called on the neighbourhood majlis to bring communities together, saying they should not be used as a platform to promote racism and division.
Sheikh Mohammed issued a decree on the neighbourhood gatherings in Dubai setting out a vision for their key role in improving the lives of citizens in the emirate.
He said the Community Development Authority would be given the task of governing the activities of majlises and presenting strategic plans to the Executive Council for approval.
Majlises are community gatherings steeped in Emirati tradition.
Their cherished status has also been recognised on the global stage.
In December, 2015, the UN's cultural arm, Unesco, stated the majlis of the UAE played “an important role in the transmission of oral heritage”.
Unesco added majlises, along with gahwa and al rafza dancing, to the Intangible Cultural Heritage register at the time.
Sheikh Mohammed's decree seeks to ensure they are used as a vehicle for good in the emirate, helping to open up access to social services for Emiratis, encourage volunteering, support young people and bolster a sense of national identity.
Under the order, a neighbourhood majlis must not “involve themselves in politics or inciting hatred, racism or sectarianism” or discuss issues which may “affect the stability and the security of the nation”, state news agency Wam reported.
They are also prohibited from receiving, collecting or promoting donations.
The director general of the Community Development Authority will oversee the implementation of the decree, which will take effect when published in the Official Gazette.
Earlier this week, Sheikh Mohammed spoke of the need for the Emirates to work as one to build on the country's achievements.
The UAE is taking important strides towards its next half century of prosperity, having ended 2021 by marking its Golden Jubilee.
“We must have a clear and unified vision for the future,” he said.
“We must persevere to ensure further development, in order to combat poverty and ignorance.”
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, holds regular majlis events, including each week during Ramadan, to discuss significant local and international issues.
Mike Pompeo, former US secretary of state, praised the UAE for working to foster peace and harmony in the Middle East during a Mohamed bin Zayed majlis in November.
During an in-person Qasr al Bahr majlis in October, Sheikh Mohamed spoke of how the country had learnt crucial lessons from its fight against the coronavirus.