New York – May 17, 2019 – The United Arab Emirates welcomed over 80 religious, community and government leaders to an interfaith Ramadan iftar in New York City hosted by H.E. Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the United Nations, and H.E. Abdalla Shaheen, UAE Consul General in New York. The event also reflected on the UAE’s 2019 Year of Tolerance — an initiative aimed at raising levels of mutual understanding between people of different cultural and religious backgrounds.
In attendance were senior UN officials, including H.E. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, Amina J. Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General, and H.E. Miguel Moratinos, the High Representative of the UN Alliance of Civilizations. They were joined by prominent faith and community leaders in New York, including Imam Ahmed Dewidar from the Islamic Center of Mid Manhattan, Swami Sarvapriyananda, Priest and Spiritual Leader at the Vedanta Society of New York, and Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, the Executive Director at the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at New York University and recently appointed first chief rabbi of the Jewish community in the UAE.
In her keynote remarks, Ambassador Nusseibeh underscored the importance of interfaith dialogue in fostering peaceful and inclusive societies, particularly in times of increased faith-based violence and hate crimes.
She stressed, “We truly are at the heart of the international community here in New York, where the UN brings the nations of the world together, in a city where more than 800 different languages are spoken. We must be role models in promoting inclusive and peaceful societies.”
Noting that charity is a core tenet of celebrating Ramadan and for building an inclusive society, Ambassador Nusseibeh announced that the UAE Mission and Consulate will make a donation on behalf all those who attended the iftar to the World Food Programme’s ShareTheMeal initiative. The donation will go towards feeding hungry children around the world and help build a world with zero hunger.
Consul General Shaheen also spoke on the UAE’s commitment to peaceful coexistence, compassion and understanding, values that are shared with the United States.
“In the UAE, people of many faiths and more than 200 nationalities live together in harmony, side by side, just as in New York City,” Consul General Shaheen said. “We believe that differences should be embraced and celebrated. This makes us stronger as a society, and it is the best antidote to the growing threat of hatred and extremism around the world.”
In their remarks, President Espinosa, Deputy Secretary-General Mohammed, Imam Dewidar, and Rabbi Sarna celebrated the spirit of religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence, and commended the UAE for its leading role in promoting these values.
Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, dedicated to charity, kindness, and prayer. Attendees at last night’s event celebrated Ramadan with the traditional breaking of the fast and learned more about the values and cultural practices of the Muslim community.