A new initiative launched this morning in Abu Dhabi aims to promote coexistence and opportunities for cross-cultural cooperation and education on a regional scale. Manara CenterJonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of ADL, which was created by the United Arab Emirates in partnership with the Anti-Defamation League, said it would serve as a mechanism “to interrupt intolerance before it can take root.” jewish insider It departs from Abu Dhabi ahead of the center’s opening on Tuesday morning.
Greenblatt said the idea was conceived several years ago in conversations with Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE’s ambassador to the United States, as the Gulf state prepared for the Year of Tolerance, a year-long national project, in 2019. Year brings global religious leaders to country, modernizes government side, sees announcement of construction Abraham Family Homea complex that includes mosques, churches and synagogues.
“What I found in Ambassador Al Otaiba was a shared commitment to fighting extremism and hatred,” Greenblatt explained. “What really struck me was that he recognized that if you try to peel back the layers why we have extremism, it often comes from a place of ignorance. So if we can facilitate human-to-human engagement and encourage Understanding, we think that might be a way forward.”
Part of the Center’s work is focused on university students in the Arab world. “We do know from our own research,” Greenblatt said, “that anti-bias education, Holocaust education, these interventions do reduce bias. So we’re going to start with student-to-student activities.”
When planning began this summer, the center planned to involve students from the Middle East and Southeast Asia in a variety of conferences and exchanges. Al Otaiba said the effort reflects the shared values of the UAE and the United States committed to “promoting peace and coexistence and creating opportunities for youth in the region.”
The Rev. Johnny Moore, commissioner of the USCIRF and member of the ADL’s Middle East Minority Task Force, told JI that the opening of the Manara center is “another example of making history.”
“Ignorance is the enemy of peace,” Moore added in an interview in Abu Dhabi. “It’s not enough to make big moves. We have to prepare the next generation to live in the world we’re creating. I think that’s the power of the Manara Center.”
The center’s name is derived from Arabic and means “light source”.
Greenblatt will serve on the board of the Manara Centre, chaired by Dr Ali Al Nuaimi, a leading member of the UAE Federal National Assembly and a global expert on extremism, who heads Hedayah, Abu Dhabi’s apex body to combat extremism . Al Nuaimi explained that the initiative “will be based on our region and serve the interests of our region.”
The regional focus is intentional, Greenblatt said. “It’s not for the UAE, it’s not even for the Gulf region. It’s how we think on a broader scale? … It’s how we help equip and support homegrown efforts in the region to fight extremism and hate? I think if we do That’s right, we’re all going to win.”