May 13th, 2019: An action-based research project conducted by students and a faculty member from Canadian University Dubai (CUD) has found that academic institutions and family dynamics are considered the main contributors to fostering tolerance among UAE youth.
Mentored by Assistant Professor, Dr. Ghada Abaido, two Bachelor of Communication students, Nermin Abu Al Zahab and Ardra Meletath, conducted the research among 200 young people representing over 40 different nationalities, with over 55% of respondents from a non-Arab background. They found that 82.5% of those surveyed felt accepted in the UAE, while 96% said that they do not discriminate based on individuals differences.
The project, which culminated in the research paper ‘Exploring tolerance in diverse cultural and social settings amongst youth in the UAE’ was among the winners at the 7th annual Abu Dhabi University Undergraduate Research Competition. Shortlisted from over 700 original entries, the students’ presentation won them a top-three place and AED 1,500 prize money in the Tolerance, Psychology & Sociology category of the region-wide contest.
Speaking about the impetus behind the project, Dr. Abaido said, “Youth are the largest demographic in the Emirates and the future leaders and drivers of tolerance across the nation. For this reason, we wanted to conduct research to develop a clear understanding of how they have assimilated to life in the UAE and how they view and practice tolerance. The ultimate aim is to make a meaningful contribution to cultivating tolerance through education and cultural interaction from a very earlier age.”
As well as providing statistical insights into the attitudes of youth in the context of the UAE Year of Tolerance, the paper also offers practical recommendations to promote tolerance among school age children through a series of campaigns centered around art and creativity.
Discussing the findings of the study, Public Relations major Nermin commented, “The survey results are very encouraging, demonstrating that the degree of tolerance amongst youth in the UAE is especially high, with the majority being very accepting of those around them regardless of religious, political, ethnic, cultural or social beliefs. This research project confirmed to me how important tolerance is in bringing us together to live harmoniously in the UAE and most importantly, to help us to progress as a society.”
Reflecting on the research process, fellow Public Relations student, Ardra, added, “Through my interactions with 200 people of so many different nationalities, I think I have experienced an evolution in my own understanding of tolerance and acceptance; it has helped me to completely erase the traditional one-dimensional stereotypes of particular cultural groups that are sometimes portrayed in society. The whole process has been enlightening and it is exciting that our research has been recognized with an award as we all believe this topic is becoming more important than ever, not just in the UAE, but all across the globe.”
This was the first research paper for 21 year old Nermin and 19 year old Ardra, who are now fully committed to continuing with the project to gather more in-depth findings, as well as working with national Ministries to develop initiatives that promote and instil tolerance in fun and creative ways among UAE residents and citizens alike.