In an effort to highlight the importance of tolerance, President of the UAE His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has proclaimed this year the ‘Year of Tolerance’. With this in mind, an event called DiversiTree was recently held at the Ismaili Centre Dubai. The project, which is part art installation and part performance art, brought together the collective creativity of the community to design a transformative experience for children and adults. This collaborative installation and performance brought to life the concept of diversity, while at the same time developing a breathtaking creation of artistic beauty.

Tolerance is an important and universal concept and, in order to progress together, it is important to engage in dialogue with different cultures. The world is now a global village where interactions with people from different parts of the world have become very common, which is why promoting tolerance and co-existence has become increasingly important.

“DiversiTree was an amazing experience for all of us,” Ishaan Virani said “We learnt about ourselves and each other, and how we are unique and similar at the same time. The events were great and everybody had an amazing time. I would love to do it again.”

After months of fieldwork, two full-day sessions were organised where the participants were asked to demonstrate their artistic skills. The final output was displayed on the tree itself and each output carried the message of diversity and inclusivity. There were handmade art pieces that formed the birds, nests, and leaves of the tree, each with calligraphic quotes on them. The nest, for instance, had eggs of different sizes and colours, which symbolised coexistence. The leaves of different shapes and sizes carried quotes of inspiring figures from Mahatma Gandhi to Oprah Winfrey to William Shakespeare.

“DiversiTree showed me how to be open minded and to accept other cultures and differences through the medium of art,” Aaliya Ladhani said.

Participants were introduced to the idea that a single word can be said and written in several ways. Participants were taught how to write the basics of calligraphy not only in the script that they are familiar with but in other languages as well.

Once the tree was complete, it was unveiled in front of the invitees which included the parents of the participants, as well as dignitaries. There were performances, monologues, poems, and presentations under the tree that formed a collective effort of the youth present in the hall.

Kiran Amin Mohammad, the project manager of DiversiTree, called the event “an exhilarating journey of colours” and “an amalgamation of art, literature, and dialogue.”

It demonstrated to all the attendees that, in this world which is full of differences, we must try to be a bridge of communication between the people of the world and their various cultures, creating an environment of openness and respect and we must, at all times, promote coexistence and a better world for tomorrow.

“The power of nature is such that it’s what all art strives to be,” said Zubeda Khetsi, the project leader of DiversiTree. “The more we can get in tune with the harmony of the planet, the more our art and our minds can benefit from this relationship. For me, it was the vision of harnessing this relationship between nature, art, and the young minds that made DiversiTree so unique and special.”