Washington, DC (15 May 2019) – United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba hosted an interfaith Iftar last night at the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC. More than 150 religious leaders, senior government and community officials, and members of the media attended the event.
The program featured remarks by prominent interfaith religious leaders, including Zaytuna College Founder Hamza Yusuf, Rabbi Yahuda Sarna, Executive Director at the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at New York University, and Reverend Canon Andrew Thompson, Senior Anglican Chaplain of St. Andrew’s Church in Abu Dhabi and author of Celebrating Tolerance: Religious Diversity in the United Arab Emirates.
Rev. Thompson underscored the importance of interfaith dialogue and inclusion to enhance mutual understanding and create more tolerant societies.
“The UAE does more than preach a message of tolerance and inclusion. As a Christian faith leader in Abu Dhabi, I see the country’s leaders and residents live their commitment to interfaith understanding all the time,” remarked Rev. Thompson. “With so much hatred on display around the world, I hope that people will look to the UAE and see a brighter future, predicated on peaceful coexistence.”
Ambassador Al Otaiba echoed this message, and highlighted the UAE’s history of these values. “Inclusion and tolerance isn’t something new for the UAE. Our founder Sheikh Zayed made these values part of his own daily life, UAE policy and Emirati society. This inclusive, open-minded outlook still shapes our society today.”
This year the UAE celebrates the “Year of Tolerance,” making the interfaith Iftar particularly fitting as it served to bring people together during an important period of Muslim faith.
“Ramadan is a time for all Muslims to recommit themselves to a life of giving and acceptance,” said Ambassador Al Otaiba. “Those are the same values that we want to emphasize during the Year of Tolerance. We are working to bridge social, cultural, and religious divides to identify common values.”
In attendance were community leaders, senior members of US Government and elected officials, including Steve Mnuchin, US Secretary of Treasury, Jason Greenblatt, Special Representative for International Negotiations, Dr. Tim Shriver, Chairman and CEO of the Special Olympics, Sam Brownback, US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Roy Blunt, Senator of Missouri, and Dean Phillips, Congressman from Minnesota.
Attendees participated in the traditional breaking of the fast, and learned more about the values that are cherished and shared during the sacred month of Ramadan.