UAE religious tolerance

How the United Arab Emirates Has Promoted Tolerance, Co-Existence and Multiculturalism to Confront Religious Violence

When it was discovered that two Emirati citizens were among the 19 hijackers involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the country’s leadership was deeply concerned.[i] Affiliates of Islamist terrorist groups had infiltrated Emirati society and spread radical, violent ideologies within the country’s borders. The reputation of the United Arab Emirates had been seriously damaged around the world and especially in Washington, the country’s most relevant security partner.

The government was determined to eradicate violent extremism and radical ideologies and replace them with a moderate version of Islam that is inclusive and multicultural. After the Arab Spring uprisings across the Middle East in 2011, the UAE doubled down its efforts against violent Islamist parties and movements across the region by promoting tolerance. To this aim, the country’s government has embarked on a major transformational overhaul of its legal system and the launching of several interfaith initiatives, becoming an example for other countries interested in adopting a moderate model of Islam.

While the UAE has achieved successes in the promotion of interfaith dialogues and mutual understanding between different cultures, the campaign to bolster its moderate Islam model dovetails with the ruling elite’s need to uphold the regime’s security at home and boost its reputational standing globally. Tolerance has bolstered the country’s soft power and economic security. Still, critics ask how much of what has been achieved in the area results from a top-down design rather than genuine, bottom-up embracement.

Filling the Religious Vacuum: The UAE and Islam

The UAE’s response to 9/11 was two-fold. They joined the U.S.-led “war on terror” to help repair their image internationally but they also embarked on a process geared toward the gradual reappropriation by the federal government of the space, symbols, moral authority, and mobilising power associated with Islam.

Less than a decade later, the Arab Uprising started in Tunisia and spread across the Middle East. Thousands of disaffected citizens took to the streets demanding change. Leaders such as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who had been in power for decades, were deposed, and major regional powerhouses, such as Egypt and Syria, fell into protracted civil conflicts.[ii] The protests created a power vacuum, and political Islam-inspired movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood, and Jihadi-Salafi terrorist groups, moved in quickly to fill the hole.

Muslim Brotherhood affiliates such as Da’wa al-Islah started to play a significant role in the UAE in the mid-1970s.[iii] During the 1980s, the movement gradually influenced policymaking processes, especially by securing important bureaucratic positions at universities and in government offices. The Brotherhood also developed close links with different communities through its charitable activities, yet by the 1990s, the group had been neutralised. The situation dramatically changed with the Arab uprisings of 2011. The Brotherhood was seen as a viable alternative in multiple countries plagued by decades of corruption and was elected to power in Egypt in 2012 under leader Mohamed Morsi.[iv]

The UAE’s tolerance-based agenda at home and abroad took form amid a campaign to curb the expansion of political reformist movements in the aftermath of the Arab uprisings.

The Emirati leadership saw the Brotherhood’s agenda as a menace to the regime’s stability and treated the organization as a threat to domestic security. In 2013, 60 members of Islah were arrested and found guilty of attempting to overthrow the UAE government. In 2014, the Brotherhood was designated a terrorist organization. Since then, the UAE has also cracked down on other reformist political movements, Islamist or otherwise.[v]

By directly associating Brotherhood-affiliated movements with Islamist terrorist groups, the UAE tried to discredit their demands for political reform as a by-product of a radical, violent ideology and antithesis of the model of moderate Islam the country wants to promote. The Emirati push toward tolerance, therefore, stemmed from the regime’s security need to mitigate the ideological appeal and the mobilizing power of both political Islam-inspired and liberal movements.

The UAE’s tolerance-based agenda at home and abroad took form amid a campaign to curb the expansion of political reformist movements in the aftermath of the Arab uprisings. Unlike some of its close regional neighbours such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, the UAE did not see massive street protests. However, they did receive a petition supported by Islamist and liberal circles that called for broad constitutional reforms and an opening of the domestic political space.[vi]

From the perspective of the UAE’s leadership, any form of politicization of Islam is deemed as an “incubator of all extreme offshoots”[vii] and needs to be countered in order to avoid the spread of religious radicalism. This set the UAE on a collision course with competing interpretations of Islam, including its Arabian Gulf neighbour, Qatar, which established political and ideological ties with the Muslim Brotherhood after the outbreak of the Arab uprisings. The disagreement between the two countries about the relationship between politics and religion,[viii] and “diverging considerations of regime security, threat perceptions, and regional stability”[ix] ended with the UAE cutting off diplomatic ties with Doha in 2017.

Religion, State, and Soft Power: Turning Spirituality into Statecraft

Islam has always played a role in informing the country’s political discourse.

Islam has always played a role in informing the country’s political discourse, orienting its citizens’ social life, and influencing popular ideology, but the religious dimension was not prominently featured in the UAE’s toolkit until recently. In the past, Emirati leadership used different approaches, including humanitarian aid programs, pan-Arab cultural diplomacy, and foreign direct investments, to build up the UAE’s diplomatic capital and reputation on the international stage and uphold its national strategic interests.

In 2014-15, with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) wreaking havoc in the Middle East and perpetrating a wave of terrorist attacks in Europe, the revival of political Islam-inspired groups came to threaten the UAE’s domestic legal order and global reputational standing. The country played an active role in curbing the spread of radical Islamic ideologies within the framework of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, but military commitment was only one of the many initiatives that the UAE undertook. Instead of appeasing radical agendas, the UAE government intensified its efforts at rehabilitating a version of Islam that featured moral values such as tolerance, moderation, and co-existence.[x] The UAE government’s strategy emphasized the importance of educating society to develop “antibodies” against radicalization.

In 2014, the government established the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Society in Abu Dhabi and appointed Sheikh Abdallah bin Mahfudh ibn Bayyah, a prominent UAE Islamic scholar and chairman of the Emirates Fatwa Council, as President. The Forum’s mission is to fight misinterpretations of Islam by radical groups and foster a culture of peace among Muslim communities. To this aim, the Forum has organized eight conferences that have brought together well-known Islamic scholars, religious leaders, and peace advocates.

The UAE did not completely deemphasise religion’s role in politics but promoted a state-sanctioned version of Islam.

The country has also established Al Hedayah and Al Sawab, two counter-terrorism centers, and the International Institute for Tolerance (IIT).[xi] Launched in 2012 and based in Abu Dhabi, Al Hedayah is a “think and do tank” composed of a vast network of policy-makers, practitioners, and researchers specialized in countering violent extremism who support governments and non-governmental organizations alike. By relying on evidence-based and innovative programs, Al Hedayah is tasked with preventing and countering the spread of extremist ideologies through the development of good practices and capacity-building activities.[xii]

Alarmed by the increasingly sophisticated social media strategies implemented by terrorist organizations to maximize their propaganda, fundraising, and recruitment capabilities, the UAE partnered with the U.S. in 2015 to establish Al Sawab Center, an Abu Dhabi-based think tank.[xiii] Al Sawab Center’s core goal is to combat the online propaganda of extremist groups through direct online engagement.[xiv] To achieve this, workers at the think tank try first to understand the socioeconomic and psychological drivers that make joining an extremist group appealing to some Muslims, especially youth. The center then incorporates this research into strategies (such as countering ISIL’s digital narratives) that neutralize radical propaganda and recruitment efforts.[xv]

Established by the UAE Government of Dubai in 2017, the International Institute for Tolerance (IIT) aims to promote inter-faith dialogue and anti-discriminatory good practices as tools to spread a culture of tolerance and openness in the region as well as globally. The institute also seeks to further the country’s reputation as a successful model of building a cohesive pluralist society by highlighting its broad array of nationalities, ethnicities, and religious beliefs.[xvi] One of the IIT’s initiatives is the Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum Tolerance Award, given to individuals and entities that stand out for their role in fostering values of co-existence and peace.[xvii]

The UAE did not completely de-emphasise religion’s role in politics but promoted a state-sanctioned version of Islam. Well-known Islamic scholars and religious institutions significantly contributed to consolidating the state’s moral authority and extending its sovereignty over religious affairs.[xviii] The Emirates Fatwa Council is a case in point. Established in 2018 and chaired by Sheikh bin Bayyah, the council holds a prominent role in the Emirates’ religious makeup as the only entity in the country with the legitimate authority to grant licenses to issue fatwas (Islamic rulings) and train muftis.[xix] The creation of the Fatwa Council emancipated the country from its dependency on overseas religious power centers (traditionally, Muslim countries lacking prestigious religious centers of their own have relied on foreign Islamic institutions to regulate religious matters), asserted the state’s monopoly over the spiritual domain, and granted religious legitimacy to the policies it implemented.

Bringing Tolerance to the Fore: Institutional Reforms and Everyday Practices in the UAE

While domestic security priorities informed the agenda to promote tolerance, the UAE has capitalised on the convergence between its national security concerns and the international community’s security concerns about the expansion of Islamist terrorism and violent extremist ideologies in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. Tolerance has become a key tool of the UAE’s domestic and foreign policy strategy, and the approach has allowed the country to cast itself as the torch-bearer of stability and coexistence in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Caught between the Wahhabi thoughts, supported by Saudis and Qataris, and the Ikhwan ideology, the UAE sought to chart a third way for Sunni Islam in the Arabian Peninsula. In 2015, the government “institutionalized” tolerance [xx] with the Federal Decree Law No. 2 on Combating Discrimination and Hatred, which allowed the UAE to punish hate crimes.[xxi] In February 2016, the UAE created a Ministry of Tolerance, and renamed it as Ministry of Tolerance and Coexistence in 2020. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, a respected political figure who made history in the UAE by becoming the first woman to hold a ministerial post in 2004, was appointed as head of the new office by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai’s Ruler and the UAE’s Prime Minister and Vice-President.[xxii] The position was then handed over to H.E. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan in 2017.[xxiii]

In June 2016, the UAE cabinet issued a blueprint for implementing their new policy.[xxiv] The National Tolerance Programme gave formal substance to the principles underpinning the UAE’s notion of tolerance and delineated the tools at the disposal of the Ministry to deliver on its objectives.

The programme starts by recalling the words enunciated in Article 1 of UN General Assembly Resolution No. 51/201 on the “Issues of Human Rights including the Various Approaches to Improve the Actual Enjoyment of Human Rights and Basic Freedoms.” Tolerance is defined as follows:

“Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. […] Tolerance is harmony in difference. It is not only a moral duty, it is also a political and legal requirement. Tolerance, the virtue that makes peace possible, contributes to the replacement of the culture of war by a culture of Peace. […] Tolerance is not concession, condescension or indulgence. Tolerance is, above all, an active attitude prompted by recognition of the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of others […] the practice of tolerance does not mean toleration of social injustice or the abandonment or weakening of one’s convictions. It means that one is free to adhere to one’s own convictions and accepts that others adhere to theirs.”[xxv]

The framework defined by the UAE encompasses three distinct but not mutually exclusive value systems.

The document then identifies the seven key pillars underpinning the country’s approach to tolerance: Islam, the UAE Constitution, the legacy and ethics of the country’s Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, international conventions, archaeology and history, human nature, and common values.[xxvi] The framework defined by the UAE encompasses three distinct but not mutually exclusive value systems.

First, it refers to the local dimension and the role of the UAE’s national heritage by pointing at the country’s constitution, its archaeology and history, and, most importantly, the legacy of Sheikh Zayed. The UAE’s push for tolerance is framed as a process deeply rooted in the social fabric of the country. The tolerance doctrine also looks to Islam and the great Islamic civilizations of the past, such as Damascus, Baghdad, and Al-Andalus, for inspiration. The UAE’s approach to religious tolerance does not discard its Islamic roots and supports a positive reappropriation of Islamic traditions and values. It rejects assertions that tolerance is an exclusively Western liberal ideal and emphasizes how the principles of moderation, anti-extremism, and inter-faith coexistence are an integral part of the Islamic tradition. Finally, the programme refers to international conventions, as well as the shared values and human nature of the global community. This reflects the UAE’s desire to promote tolerance in a culture of cooperation typical of supranational institutions.

To demonstrate its dedication to tolerance, the UAE’s leadership also made symbolic gestures to religious coexistence. The Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi’s Al Mushrif residential district was renamed Mariam Umm Eisa, which translates to Mary Mother of Jesus.[xxvii] In addition to this, to commemorate UNESCO’s 22nd International Day of Tolerance on November 16, 2017, a new pedestrian bridge over the Dubai Canal was named Tolerance Bridge.[xxviii] For the 2018 International Day of Tolerance, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives Foundation in Dubai hosted the first-ever World Tolerance Summit. The two-day event brought together government officials, representatives of foundations and humanitarian organizations, diplomatic personnel, and religious figures from diverse backgrounds to discuss the best ways to spread the culture of interfaith dialogue and to foster peaceful coexistence among different communities across the globe.[xxix]

A month later, on December 15, 2018, the late H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed declared 2019 as the Year of Tolerance in the UAE. The initiative provided the UAE with the appropriate context to host a vast array of high-profile events and to promote the country’s model of moderate Islam on a global stage. In February 2019, the country hosted Pope Francis as part of the first trip of a Catholic pope to the Arabian Peninsula in history.[xxx] With the most prominent authority figures of the Catholic Church and Sunni Islam converging on the common goal of nurturing mutual understanding among different religions, the event provided significant legitimacy to the UAE’s model of moderate Islam. The two-day trip culminated in the issue of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together,[xxxi] a joint manifesto against fanaticism and radicalism signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Professor Ahmad Al-Tayyeb.[xxxii] This was followed by the establishment of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, an international group of religious and non-religious authorities whose mission is to oversee the proper implementation of the Human Fraternity Document’s principles and support concrete initiatives to spread a culture of peace.

Another flagship initiative inspired by the principles enshrined in the Human Fraternity Document was the decision to build the Abrahamic Family House, a multi-faith complex housing places of worship of the three Abrahamic monotheistic religions: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.[xxxiii] By developing a site with a mosque, a church, and a synagogue in one place, the Abrahamic Family House is meant to embody the principles of interfaith unity, tolerance, moderation, and peaceful coexistence. Both the Tolerance Bridge in Dubai and the Abrahamic Family House on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island were designed to be visible to serve as a reminder of the values they represent. Officially opened on March 1, 2023, the multi-faith complex is expected to attract thousands of worshippers and tourists every year.[xxxiv]

During the opening ceremony of the National Festival of Tolerance at Expo 2020 Dubai on November 16, 2021, Sheikh Nahyan announced the inauguration of the Global Tolerance Alliance. The initiative seeks to enhance a common understanding of human values and delegitimise intolerant views by bringing together clerics from all major faiths, officials from international organizations, and practitioners on interfaith dialogue.[xxxv]

The Emirati government has also sought to instil a culture of tolerance among the country’s younger generations by developing higher-education programs tailored to socialize them into positively embracing the values of peaceful multi-faith coexistence. In November 2020, a law was issued to set up the Mohamed bin Zayed University for Humanities (MBZUH). With campuses in Abu Dhabi and Ajman, the institution offers programs in the fields of social studies, humanities, and philosophy.[xxxvi] While similar curricula can be found in other universities across the UAE, MBZUH stands out as the world’s first university offering a bachelor’s degree in tolerance and coexistence.[xxxvii] The three-year program aims to “consolidate the culture of tolerance, coexistence and appreciation of differences”[xxxviii] by providing them with thematic courses on a core of tolerance-based principles, such as Ethics and Common Humanity, Media and Culture of Coexistence, and Religion Comparison. The first cohort of students enrolled in September 2021 and will graduate in 2024.

As the host of the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 28), the UAE is also seeking to promote its tolerance agenda at the climate summit. Gathering hundreds of government leaders, delegates, and media professionals in Expo City Dubai, COP 28 is primarily a platform to address major global environmental challenges, but it also presents an opportunity for the UAE to showcase the country’s endeavour in promoting interfaith dialogue and peaceful coexistence. In this regard, the Muslim Council of Elders, an Abu Dhabi-based independent international organization devoted to nurturing a culture of peace within the Muslim world,[xxxix] and the United Nations Environment Programme have launched a joint initiative to host a Faith Pavilion. A first for the UN climate conference, the Faith Pavilion aims to bring together religious and civil society organizations to encourage multi-religious engagement with climate action.[xl]

Genuine Embracement? The Tolerance Agenda’s Shades of Gray

The strong hand of the state behind most tolerance-building projects raised concerns about the instrumentalization of the tolerance discourse.

According to Dutch sociologist Marjoka van Doorn, the notion of tolerance has long been a contested concept with different connotations based on historical context, sociocultural background, ethnicity, gender, or religious belief. The concept of tolerance is thus being constantly redefined depending on a place’s historical era and geography. Most importantly, van Doorn asserts that tolerance does not mean accepting everything and is not synonymous with disagreements and differences. On the contrary, objection and disapproval are the key conditions for tolerance to flourish. Tolerance is not necessarily the byproduct of a society inherently prone to harmony and coexistence, but it can also arise in environments with conflict that have matured into a state of peace and stability. Paradoxically, tolerance implies accepting the very things one rejects to foster peaceful coexistence at the societal level and defuse the potentially disruptive impacts of intergroup differences. Tolerance is key for the long-term prosperity of heterogeneous societies that aim to thrive while embracing intergroup differences.[xli]

While the UAE’s push to emerge as a beacon of tolerance and religious moderation in the Middle East prompted it to take concrete steps to promote interfaith coexistence both at home and abroad, some accounts have questioned the sincerity of these initiatives.[xlii] Indeed, the strong hand of the state behind most tolerance-building projects raised concerns about the instrumentalization of the tolerance discourse by the UAE to pursue a wide range of political goals, such as bolstering the country’s international standing, enhancing the Emirati leadership’s domestic legitimacy, and disempowering all forms of political Islam.[xliii]

As emphasized by Greek International Relations scholar Panos Kourgiotis, the UAE is an effective and skillful player when it comes to using soft power, especially through strategic communication and relationship-building.[xliv] The heavy mediatization of the initiatives and the state’s strong impetus underpinning their implementation certainly seem to speak to a foreign audience. Italian political scientist Eleonora Ardemagni of the Middle East Institute argues that the UAE’s efforts to promote a culture of tolerance at home and abroad are geared toward pursuing the country’s geopolitical ends.[xlv] From this perspective, the UAE’s push for tolerance is conceived as “a top-down, politically-engineered operation”.[xlvi] On the interplay between state-branding efforts and the spread of tolerance, David H. Warren of the Berkley Center at Georgetown University in Washington, observes how the UAE’s strategic positioning and leadership in organizing world-class interfaith dialogue events has played a pivotal role in bolstering the country’s soft power.[xlvii]

The success of the tolerance campaign is integral to the strategy of Emirati policy-makers in ensuring the country’s long-term socio-political stability and economic prosperity.

The regular pattern displayed by many interfaith projects in the UAE—including widespread media coverage, the participation of high-profile spiritual leaders, and the close involvement of state-funded agencies—has encouraged some observers to perceive these initiatives as a primarily government-driven strategy to reshape and control the discourse about the interplay between religion and politics.[xlviii] Critics accuse the UAE of wielding religion as a tool of soft power to further the country’s political ends.

The Abrahamic Family House is such a case. Strategically located in the middle of Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi’s cultural heart, the multi-faith complex will operate next to Abu Dhabi’s major tourist attractions, cultural and educational spots, such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Manarat Al Saadiyat (an art and culture centre), New York University Abu Dhabi, as well as the Zayed National Museum and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. The Abrahamic Family House is set to become a destination of pilgrimage for genuine believers, but also for tourists, who are likely to absorb the image of moderate Islam projected by the UAE. The design, easy access, and direct moral message of the multi-faith complex nurtures the idea of tolerance, catering especially to an international audience, and increasing Abu Dhabi’s global reputation.

Saadiyat Island will not just appeal to foreign visitors. Emirati nationals—especially the youth—and long-term residents of the UAE will also be affected by these symbols of tolerance. Saadiyat Island stands out as a conglomerate of tourist attractions, cultural hotspots, and leisure sites where a population of locals and foreigners can live and interact freely with the ideas and concrete manifestations of tolerance. In addition to the cultural and interfaith initiatives unfolding on Saadiyat Island, the government-backed counter-terrorism research centres and tolerance-focused university degree programmes also bear a significant transformative potential to entrench cultural diversity and multi-religious coexistence into the UAE’s complex demographic composition. Serving as a catalyst for mutual understanding and peaceful social cohesion among people from different backgrounds, religions, and nationalities, these top-down reforms and measures, although attracting some criticism, have the potential of turning ‘diversity’ from a conflict-generating element into a coexistence-nurturing force. As the UAE aims to become the destination of choice for thousands of new job seekers and a reliable partner in the global fight against religious extremism, the success of the tolerance campaign is integral to the strategy of Emirati policy-makers in ensuring the country’s long-term socio-political stability and economic prosperity.

The UAE has long anchored its religious model on the paradigm that the moral antidote to Islamist radical ideologies is based on a politically quietist conceptualisation of Islam. It signals that, in the struggle between tolerance vis-à-vis fanaticism, the UAE is firmly aligned with the global moral order and liberal values that see interfaith dialogue and mutual acceptance as the key features of prosperous future societies. Ultimately, the ideological utilization of Islam in a tolerant fashion by the UAE leadership has been of paramount importance to boost the country’s international image and secure the regime from threats both at home and regionally across the Middle East.

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[ii] Bishara, A. (2013). Revolution against Revolution, the Street against the People, and Counter-Revolution. Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies. Retrieved from
[iii] Hedges, M., & Cafiero, G. (2017). The GCC and the Muslim Brotherhood: What Does the Future Hold? Middle East Policy, 24(1), 129-153.
[iv] Al-Anani, K. (2015). Upended Path: The Rise and Fall of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Middle East Journal, 69(4), 527-543. Retrieved from
[v] Hedges, M., & Cafiero, G. (2017). The GCC and the Muslim Brotherhood: What Does the Future Hold? Middle East Policy, 24(1), Spring 2017.
[vi] Freer, C. (2016). The Changing Islamist Landscape of the Gulf Arab States. The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. Retrieved from
[vii] Alshateri, A. A. (2020). How Washington Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the UAE. American Diplomacy. Retrieved from
[viii] Brignone, M. (2018). Qatar and Emirates: the Conflict Between Islams. Oasis. Retrieved from
[ix] Ulrichsen, K. C. (2020). Using Religion for Geopolitical Ends in the Gulf Disputes between Abu Dhabi and Qatar. Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs. Retrieved from
[x] Baycar, H., & Rakipoglu, M. (2022). The United Arab Emirates’ Religious Soft Power through Ulema and Organizations. Religions, 13(6), 646.
[xi] The United Arab Emirates’ Government portal. (2022). Centres for countering extremism. Retrieved from
[xii] Hedayah. (n.d.). About Hedayah. Retrieved from Accessed on July 5, 2023.
[xiii] Embassy of the United Arab Emirates Washington. (2015). UAE & US Launch Sawab Center – New Digital Communications Hub to Counter Extremist Propaganda. Retrieved from
[xiv] Khan, T. (2015). Abu Dhabi counter-terrorism centre to battle ISIL’s online lies. The National. Retrieved from
[xv] SAWAB. (n.d.). ABOUT US. Retrieved from Accessed on July 5, 2023.
[xvi] International Institute for Tolerance. (n.d.). ABOUT THE INSTITUTE. Retrieved from Accessed on July 5, 2023.
[xvii] The United Arab Emirates’ Government portal. (2023). Tolerance and peace awards. Retrieved from
[xviii] Baycar, H., & Rakipoglu, M. (2022). The United Arab Emirates’ Religious Soft Power through Ulema and Organizations. Religions, 13(6), 646.
[xix] The National. (2022). UAE Cabinet forms Emirates Fatwa Council. Retrieved from
[xx] Fahy, J. (2018). The international politics of tolerance in the Persian Gulf. Religion, State & Society, 46(4), 313. doi:10.1080/09637494.2018.1506963.
[xxi] The United Arab Emirates’ Government Portal. (2022). Anti-discrimination/Anti-hatred law. Retrieved from
[xxii] Emirates 24/7. (2016). “UAE Cabinet Reshuffle: New Ministries for Tolerance, Happiness and Future.” Retrieved from
[xxiii] Khaleeji Times. (2017). “Sheikh Mohammed Announces Young UAE Cabinet.” October 27. Retrieved from
[xxiv] Emirates News Agency (WAM). (2016). “UAE Cabinet Approves National Tolerance Programme.” June 9. Retrieved from
[xxv] UN General Assembly Resolution No. 51/201. (1995). Declaration of Principles on Tolerance, Retrieved from, Accessed on May 28, 2022.
[xxvi] The United Arab Emirates’ Government Portal. (N/A).“UAE National Programme for Tolerance,” Retrieved from
[xxvii] Crompton, P. (2017). “‘Mary, Jesus’ Mother’ Is New Name for UAE Mosque.” Gulf News. Retrieved from
[xxviii] Zacharis, A. (2017). “Sheikh Mohammed names pedestrian bridge over Dubai Canal ‘Tolerance Bridge’,” The National. Retrieved from
[xxix] Webster, N. (2018). “Dubai tolerance summit calls on nations to unite,” The National. Retrieved from
[xxx] Vatican News. (2019). “Committee Created to Promote Document on Human Fraternity.” Retrieved from
[xxxi] Gallagher, D, El Sirgany, S and Stenman, J. (2019). “Pope Francis Makes First Papal Visit to Arab Gulf State.” CNN. Retrieved from
[xxxii] Tornielli, A. (2019). Pope and the Grand Imam: Historic declaration of peace, freedom, women’s rights. Vatican News. Retrieved from
[xxxiii] Reuters. (2019). UAE’s first official synagogue to open in multi-faith complex in 2022. Retrieved from
[xxxiv] Sankar, A., & Maxwell, C. (2023). UAE’s Abrahamic Family House opens to the public. The National. Retrieved from
[xxxv] WAM. (2021). Nahyan bin Mubarak launches the ‘Global Tolerance Alliance’ and opens the ‘Interfaith Summit’ at Expo 2020 Dubai. Retrieved November 16, 2021, from
[xxxvi] “UAE President orders establishment of new university for humanities,” The National, November 17, 2020,
[xxxvii] The National. (2020). UAE President orders establishment of new university for humanities. Retrieved from
[xxxviii] Mohammed bin Zayed University for Humanities. (n.d.). Bachelor of Arts Program in Tolerance and Coexistence. Retrieved July 5, 2023, from
[xxxix] Muslim Council of Elders. (n.d.). Who We Are. Retrieved July 20, 2023, from
[xl] WAM – Emirates News Agency. (2023). Muslim Council of Elders, UN Environment Programme invite participation in COP28 UAE Faith Pavilion. Retrieved July 19, 2023, from
[xli] Van Doorn, M. (2012). Tolerance. Sociopedia.isa. DOI: 10.1177/2056846012121.
[xlii] Ereli, G. (2019). The Manipulation Of Tolerance Rhetoric In The Context Of The UAE. Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Retrieved from
[xliii] Cafiero, G. (2019). Islam in the UAE’s Foreign Policy. Politics Today. Retrieved from
[xliv] Kourgiotis, P. (2020). ‘Moderate Islam’ Made in the United Arab Emirates: Public Diplomacy and the Politics of Containment. Religions, 11(1), 43. doi:10.3390/rel11010043.
[xlv] Ardemagni, E. (2019). The Geopolitics of Tolerance: Inside the UAE’s Cultural Rush. Italian Institute for International Political Studies. Retrieved from
[xlvi] Ibid.
[xlvii] Warren, D. H. (2021). Interfaith Dialogue in the United Arab Emirates: Where International Relations Meets State-Branding. Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs. Retrieved from
[xlviii] Al-Anani, K. (2020). The UAE’s Manipulative Utilization of Religion. Arab Center Washington. Retrieved from

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