Opinion: The UAE continues to shine as a beacon of leadership, progress and diversity

Together we can make the UAE the international capital of cultural and religious tolerance, writes Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, CEO of Mashreq Bank
Opinion: The UAE continues to shine as a beacon of leadership, progress and diversity
A traditional market in Sharjah in 1969
By Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair
Mon 11 Feb 2019 03:13 PM

As we face 2019, a year ahead of the milestone Expo 2020, the UAE stands as a role model of success and prosperity, not just to the region, but to the rest of the world.

The Emirates that today make up the UAE were a little more than backwater trade posts a few decades ago. The growth in financial and business services, trade and logistics, and tourism activity have played an important role in fuelling the UAE’s emergence as a global hub.

Today, we are a young nation barely 50 years old, but we are also very ambitious. There is tremendous confidence in our nation-building ability and our capacity to build human resources, infrastructure and industry.

The UAE commands international prominence, be it through the soft power of culture and connectivity or strengthening ties with our neighbours in the GCC and the Arab world, and further around the globe.

This unprecedented level of success is attributed to the visionary leadership of our forefathers, who have, since our birth, espoused the philosophy of tolerance and diversity in our everyday existence.

It is only through action that we can truly demonstrate our commitment to the initiative launched by our nation’s leaders

These principles have provided the foundation of a cohesive society in the UAE that is open to people of different cultural backgrounds and religions.

Throughout the country’s rapid growth, the contributions and efforts of people from different backgrounds have been immeasurable. My father always said that besides our national language, Arabic, in which we take immense pride and joy, one can benefit by being fluent in English, Hindi, Urdu and Tagalog in this city.

Indeed, growing up, I learned several languages by conversing with people within the community with an open mind and heart, willing to embrace and learn the best values and practices from people of diverse cultural backgrounds who call the UAE home.

Today, the UAE hosts people of all religions and over 200 nationalities live together in harmony. It is a beacon of hope in the region. Open communication and respectful exchange of ideas have fostered this oasis of tolerance.

It is the same philosophy that has powered the success of our business and has stood out as the cornerstone of Mashreq Bank, the oldest financial institution in the region. Mashreq is proud to have employees from across the world with staff from more than 60 nationalities. Promoting diversity in the workplace isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s actually good for business. It helps cater to our diverse customer base. Being an equal opportunity provider, we invest a lot of resources in creating an inclusive work environment.

The UAE government’s announcement that 2019 is the Year of Tolerance will further strengthen the nation’s role of encouraging stability and prosperity in the region.

How do we approach tolerance?

In his letter announcing the Year of Tolerance, our visionary leader, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said that the country is ready to share its positive experiences and promote a wider understanding of the universal power of tolerance within the spaces of community, education, workplace, culture, media and the UAE as a whole.

This means that at each level as an organisation, as a leader, as an employee and as an individual member of the community, we can build upon the pillars of this message.

In my position as a leader within both the public and private sector, I aim to promote tolerance by fostering dialogue and implementing policies that encourage harmony and co-existence.

Together we can make the UAE the international capital of cultural and religious tolerance

Within Mashreq, our initiatives are categorised under three broad areas such as staff care, family care and care for community. Engaging with employees at all levels is the most effective manner to reach out to our employees. We value talent, unlock individual potential and reward achievement. We also value the wellbeing of our employees and encourage a working environment where creativity and innovative thinking can thrive.

As a responsible global corporate citizen, Mashreq Bank is committed to supporting the wider community and contributing  to and leading initiatives to help create a happy society.

We’ve seen the positive impact on both the community, as well as ourselves, that such efforts can bring. For instance, through Mashreq’s Future Generations initiative, we supported the education of more than a hundred children across Asia whose parents have helped build the UAE. The programme not only allowed us to express our gratitude but is making a long-lasting impact on the lives of these families. We are currently working on different new initiatives that will be launched soon.

It is only through action that we can truly demonstrate our commitment to the initiative launched by our nation’s leaders, and pass on the wisdom of our forefather and founder of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, to the next generation.

I urge leaders within the government and private sector to be supportive by taking steps and launching projects based on the pillars outlined by Sheikh Zayed, so that together we can make the UAE the international capital of cultural and religious tolerance.

As an Emirati, I could not be prouder to hail from a nation that not only acknowledges and accepts, but celebrates and encourages multi-culturalism, making it an integral component of our national identity.


Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, CEO of Mashreq Bank

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