UAE plans to become one of the top 5 "happiest" countries in the world

Posted: 14-Sep-16 09:43

Boasting an impressive economy that grows every day and a privileged position among Middle Eastern nations, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) now look to become one of the world's happiest countries. To accomplish this goal, the UAE has appointed a Happiness Ministry to study how to further satisfy its population.

UAE plans to become one of the top 5 "happiest" countries in the world

The people’s happiness has now become a priority for the United Arab Emirates. Last February, a Ministry for Happiness was created by the government in the hope of keeping the country and its population content. Minister Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi and 60 directors of “happiness and optimism” are now on a mission of travelling around the world to study the feeling of joy and discovering how to spread it.

One of the most powerful economies in the globe, the UAE ranks as the 28th most developed country in the world according to United Nations’s 2016 report on happiness. The nation seeks to be positioned in the top five of the list by 2021. Vice president and Prime Minister of UAE Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, states that happiness is related to more productivity and efficiency:

“We want to create a society where the happiness of our people is fundamental, providing them with an environment where they can thrive and prosper.”

However, the new Ministry’s actions at the moment have not been very extensive. The measures taken are reduced to changing an old Ministry’s name and promoting a hashtag on social media. For this reason many experts and members of UAE society remain sceptical towards these initiatives. Sonia Edwards, merchandising manager and UAE resident for over a decade, shares that until now the efforts don’t seem to truly better people’s life conditions. She declared:

"There are many problems here related to work security, enterprise discrimination, high-cost rentals, and expensive school fees; if the government attacked these problems people would be happier. However, people’s happiness isn’t something that depends on the government, but in every individual’s mentality.”

In response to these opinions, Al Maktoum has insisted that the government isn’t looking to control people’s emotions or impose a certain state of mind. The Prime Minister repeated that they are only trying to create a healthy atmosphere where people can carry out their dreams and ambitions. Their goal is to:

...to give to the people and not accumulate power over them.

However, happiness is an abstract concept that cannot be easily defined. Some believe that negative consequences could follow the government’s attempt to use happiness as an indicator of a successful administration. Justin Thomas, psychologist and professor at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi thinks that up to this moment, the efforts seem like a publicity stunt, as happiness is a complex concept that requires more than appointing a Minister. Nevertheless, Thomas believes that acknowledging the need to make the people happy could be a step in the right direction, as conditions like depression or stress provoke work absences and less production, a phenomenon that costs countries millions every year.

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