ABU DHABI // A significant permanent public sculpture was unveiled yesterday. The bronze structure, titled TOLERANCE, is made up of nine individual letter pieces spelling out the word. It is positioned outside the diwan of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. The sculpture, funded by Sheikh Mohammed as a gift to the nation, is seen as an important step towards Abu Dhabi's cultural development.
In a welcome speech, Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and the Tourism Development and Investment Company, said the sculpture showed "the commitment of the government of Abu Dhabi to become a global ideas capital". "We want people to stop, look, think and engage with this work. We hope that it will inspire people, young and old, and that it will be enjoyed long into the future."
Guy Ferrer, the creator of the sculpture, said the idea came after September 11 and was intended to carry the message of peace, forgiveness and fraternity. "After September 11, the world was in enormous pain and the planet was devastated. I wanted to do the best I could with my tools as an artist to counterbalance that. TOLERANCE addresses the differences between people and the convergence of many religions in our modern world.
"Ultimately I hope it inspires peace." Ferrer said he was "very proud and honoured to be welcomed by the Abu Dhabi authorities". The sculpture, which took two years for Ferrer to complete, was unveiled during a ceremony of music and dance. Children waved flags and Bedouin folk dancers gathered in front of the artwork. Sheikh Mohammed's seven-year-old daughter, Sheikha Hassa bint Mohammed, helped to reveal the first letter. Her classmates, including her younger brother, Sheikh Zayed bin Mohammed, helped with the rest.
Karim bin Matouk, the 2007 Prince of Poets champion, was also commissioned at the last minute to write for the occasion. Matouk read his poem at the unveiling. Ferrer said he hoped to recreate the sculpture in cities such as Istanbul, New York, Jerusalem and Algiers, where he was born. His aim, he said, was that "the message of tolerance would shine and be heard worldwide". firstname.lastname@example.org