First Religious Diplomacy Conference

The UAE launched The International Tolerance Alliance – a unique initiative, like the UN, that aims to bring together religious leaders, governments and people to promote peaceful coexistence. In line with the Alliance and under the patronage of HE Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minster of Tolerance and Coexistence, and in partnership with the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy a conference on ‘Religious Diplomacy: International Challenges and Opportunities’ was organized at the Sorbonne University. It featured 18 keynote speakers from international religious organizations and diplomats.

The conference aimed to recognize the critical role played by religious organizations and diplomatic cadres in maintaining and building global harmony, fraternity and peace amongst nations.

In his inaugural address HE Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan highlighted the need of religious diplomacy. Thereafter, Swami Brahmaviharidas, representing BAPS, emphasized the need of an honest, sincere and trustworthy dialogue. He explained that international diplomacy is a three-legged stool – a balance between political diplomacy, economic diplomacy and religious diplomacy. All three are necessary for a long-term sustainable solution. While political diplomacy focuses on policies and ideologies, economic diplomacy generates stability and prosperity. Religious diplomacy is often heart to heart and creates genuine peace if founded on spiritual selflessness. Such selfless dialogues are the need of the hour for global harmony, peace and fraternity.

He highlighted that the Hindu ideal of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – ‘The world is one family’ – is reflected in the ways of the UAE leadership, which has made global harmony and peace the bedrock of their international relations. The UAE is perhaps the only country that has a Ministry of Tolerance. Inspired by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj and His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, the BAPS Hindu Mandir being built in Abu Dhabi is a testament to the vision of global harmony and peace by the leaderships of India and the UAE. It is a shining example of a new world of tolerance, peace and harmony in action. He also narrated incidents from the life of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, such as his deep friendship with President Abdul Kalam and his universal prayers at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem to explain how interfaith harmony can be a catalyst for global peace.

Other dignitaries present in the panel included: HE Dr Omar Ghobash, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for Culture and Public Diplomacy, and UAE Ambassador to the Holy See, HE Ali Bin Al Sayed Abdulrahman Al Hashim, Advisor on Judicial and Religious Affairs, UAE Presidential Court and Member of the Islamic Research Complex at Al-Azhar Al-Sharif; HE Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community of the Emirates;. HE Bishop Paolo Martinelli, The Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, Head of the Catholic Church in UAE, Oman, and Yemen.

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