The UAE furthers its case as one of the world leaders of tolerance, led by the legacy of the late founding fathers of the nation, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said on Wednesday.

Today is the International Day of Tolerance, which has been observed each year since 1996 when the UN General Assembly invited member states to recognise November 16th as such.

Among other values, the declaration describes tolerance “not only as a moral duty, but also as a political and legal requirement for individuals, groups and States”.

Shaikh Mohammad named the beautiful pedestrian brudge over the Dubai Water Canal as the Bridge of Tolerance.

Addressing the UAE citizens, especially the youth, Shaikh Mohammad said: “We are all the sons of Zayed who don’t only carry his name and keenness on his nation but also are inspired by his values, ethics, tolerance and love of all people”.

Shaikh Mohammad said: “All people are equal as they were born. No one is better than anyone else except by his work, ethics and abidance by our law and constitution as well as by respect of our country.

“Tolerance is synonymous with the UAE. It is a fundamental value of our people and an essential element for our development and prosperity in the future. Tomorrow [Thursday] is the International Day for Tolerance, a value deeply cherished in the UAE – our people are among the happiest and most accepting.”

Recalling memories etched on his mind four decades ago, Shaikh Mohammad said: “I still clearly remember the Majlis of my late father, Shaikh Rashid, which used to bring together Emirati citizens, young and old, Bedouins and urbans… citizens from diverse tribes and sects.

“They were treated equally by the late Shaikh Rashid who gave them the same respect, appreciation, rights and duties. Those who were the closet to Shaikh Rashid were the ones who served the nation better and were more influential in their respective fields.”

He added that “for Shaikh Rashid, expats were no less important than citizens, who were all welcomed at the Majlis, irrespective of their cultural and religious background. Expats were embraced by Shaikh Rashid’s Majlis as well as by Dubai. In return, expats showed their sincere appreciation and loyalty.

“After the creation of the union, I knew the late Shaikh Zayed closely, whereas a strong relationship was built between us, like that of between a father and his son, and a student and his teacher. I was closely attached to him where I learned how much he appreciated and treated people equally.

“Shaikh Zayed gave a lot to everyone who loved and prayed for him after he departed our world. They even passed their love of Zayed onto their sons and grandsons.

“The most that we are proud of is not our high-rise buildings or wide streets, neither our mega markets, but the UAE’s tolerance. We are immensely proud that our country is home to all people of various backgrounds, who live and work to build a better future for their children without fear, fanaticism, hate or racial discrimination.”