GEMS Metropole School celebrates cultural diversity and tolerance with interfaith iftar

18 April 2023

  • Iftar brings together religious leaders, students, parents of different faiths
  • Students play leading role in event to foster cross-cultural understanding
  • Event intended to promote interfaith harmony towards brighter future for all

GEMS Metropole School – Motor City recently hosted an iftar that brought together religious leaders and 700 students, parents, teachers and community members from different faiths to celebrate the Holy Month of Ramadan and promote interfaith harmony, tolerance, and cultural diversity.

The interfaith iftar aligns with the year-round learning experience of the school’s students by providing them with a unique opportunity to engage in experiential learning, develop cross-cultural competence, strengthen their social and emotional wellbeing, and become responsible and engaged global citizens.

Naveed Iqbal, Principal of GEMS Metropole School – Motor City, said: “We are thrilled to host this interfaith iftar at our school, as our goal is to promote understanding and respect among different faiths, and to showcase the UAE’s rich cultural diversity. The iftar is a true reflection of our school community’s diversity and an inspirational occasion to demonstrate our commitment to fostering inclusivity and unity. Such events are crucial in building a stronger, more resilient community and paving the way for a brighter, more inclusive future for all.”

Sheikh Ahmed Hamed, a lecturer and educational guide at Al-Manara Islamic Center, said: “Ramadan is a time of self-reflection, discipline, and spiritual growth. It’s not just about abstaining from food and drink, but also about cultivating the values of compassion, generosity, and kindness towards others, upon which the United Arab Emirates has been based since its foundation. We need to embrace diversity and celebrate our differences. Interfaith harmony is essential for peace and progress in society. We need to recognise that we are all one human family and work together to build a better future.”

Father Tanios Geagea, Priest of the Arabic and French Catholic Community in Dubai and Jebel Ali, said: “The principles of fasting, charity, and prayer that all our religions strive to achieve help us feel the suffering of others and connect with them. Through these shared values, we can build bridges of understanding and foster a community built on human fraternity, tolerance, and peace, promoting harmonious coexistence. The UAE’s commitment to promoting human fraternity is reflected in a wide range of initiatives including the recent Abrahamic House, which is a complex consisting of a mosque, a church, and a synagogue. This initiative promotes interfaith dialogue and understanding, emphasising the importance of peaceful coexistence and the values of generosity and tolerance.”

Addressing the young students, Father Geagea added: “As we look to the future, I encourage you to build upon the legacy of the previous generations and strive towards a better world – one that is resplendent with peace and safety for all. Remember, the future of our world rests in your hands. The possibilities for a better tomorrow are endless, and it is up to you to seize them with courage, determination, and compassion.”

Students played a vital role in organising the iftar and arranging various activities to promote interfaith dialogue and understanding. They participated in a Quran recitation, henna painting, Arabic calligraphy, and a quiz about Ramadan, which provided an opportunity to share traditions and beliefs and learn more about different faiths and cultures.

Students also came together with their teachers to perform a diverse range of chants dedicated to Ramadan and the love of the Prophet (PBUH). The event also marked the launch of a new Eid song written by the students, and was met with great excitement from everyone in attendance.

Shahd Abdullah, Year 12 student, said: “Helping to organise this interfaith Iftar has been an incredible experience for me and my fellow students. It has given us the opportunity to share our traditions and beliefs with others and to learn more about different faiths and cultures. Through our interactions with students and parents from different backgrounds, we have gained a greater appreciation for our differences and a deeper understanding of the common humanity that unites us all. This experience has added immeasurable value to our educational journey, as we are not just learning from textbooks, but from each other’s experiences and perspectives.”

The interfaith Iftar was organised under the leadership of Mahmoud Ali, Director of Arabic and Islamic Studies at GEMS Metropole School, with students also heavily involved. According to Mahmoud Ali, this is a testament to the growth of human awareness and the prominent development of leadership skills among the student body.

The Iftar provided an opportunity for students to engage in interfaith dialogue and learn more about each other's beliefs and practices. It was a celebration of diversity, unity, and inclusivity, reflecting the values of the school community. The success of this year’s iftar has set the bar high for future events and demonstrated the power of bringing people together in a spirit of harmony and cooperation.

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