Tolerance is high on the UAE agenda

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 12 Oct 2016

New charter will promote intercultural respect and encourage different nationalities to work together

The UAE is set to launch the world’s first Charter for Tolerance, Coexistence and Peace, which aim to promote harmonious living among the 200 nationalities that live and work together in the country.

Organisations will be encouraged to run “tolerance responsibility programmes”, as well as promoting respect for cultural diversity within the workplace, according to the new Ministry for Tolerance, led by Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi.

Combating violence, extremism and racism is also on the agenda. A new UAE Tolerance Centre will provide scientific and cultural content on tolerance and practices.
Ahmed Al Suwaidi, director for Emiratisation and Human Capital at the multicultural Abu Dhabi-based technology organisation Masdar, is experienced in dealing with the challenges of managing a workforce comprised of different nationalities.

He said: “To fully realise the enormous potential of a global workforce, Masdar understands that management at all levels must learn to unlock the opportunities presented by diversity. Succeeding in a global market, such as clean energy, requires a workforce rich in cultural and linguistic perspectives. Masdar continually adapts to meet the needs of a diverse workforce by listening to, identifying and acting on intelligent workplace insights gathered by our human resources unit.”

In July 2015, the UAE issued a law against discrimination and hatred. The legislation prohibits all forms of discrimination on the basis of religion, belief, sect, faith, creed, race, colour or ethnic origin.

Under the law, managers are punishable by the same penalties if they are aware that discrimination is happening in the workplace. Anyone who breaks the law can face imprisonment of up to five years and/or a fine of between AED 500,000 and AED 1,000,000.

Al Suwaidi said policies and practices that follow the new charter are good for business. He said: “At Masdar, our success relies upon an inclusive and cohesive workforce. Our employees are made up of more than 30 different nationalities, a one-third female gender balance and a healthy age distribution that ranges from 20 to over 60. We believe diversity in the workplace enhances all aspects of the business, from decision-making to creativity to productivity.

“Additionally, while Masdar remains committed to Emiratisation as a national initiative, we will continue to retain, attract and develop a talent pool of diverse religious, cultural and socio-economic standpoints.”

The Cabinet launched the National Tolerance Programme in June, as part of the UAE Vision 2021. To celebrate the tolerance charter, the country has declared an International Day for Tolerance to be observed on 16 November.