Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 June 2019

Well-being should be a national aspiration

The UAE's 12-year programme will improve quality of life on an individual, community and nationwide basis

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, looks over the new national wellbeing strategy with Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior. Courtesy Dubai Media Office
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, looks over the new national wellbeing strategy with Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior. Courtesy Dubai Media Office

It was the king of Bhutan who, in 1972, coined the idea of happiness being a currency even more valuable than a country’s GDP. And since the UN General Assembly passed a resolution in 2011 urging member nations to follow Bhutan’s example and measure happiness and well-being as a “fundamental human goal”, the UAE has undertaken steps to do just that, even creating a post for a Minister of State for Happiness and Well-being in 2016. In the latest move, the cabinet has unveiled a 12-year programme, called the National Strategy for Well-being 2031, comprising 90 projects to boost the “physical, psychological and digital health of future generations”, according to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai. The initiatives aim to improve quality of life on an individual, community and nationwide basis. They are recognition that well-being is critical to productivity and the ability to contribute to society.

Living miles away from one’s homeland can often be an isolating and disconcerting experience. And while the UAE often ranks in the top 20 countries in the World Happiness Report, the traditional support bases of friends and family are not always close to hand when needed. New Zealand has just released its first well-being budget in recognition that GDP alone does not govern standards of life and satisfaction. Too often, there can be a tendency to value countries and their citizens according to economics and financial wealth – but taken alone, they are no guarantee of happiness. It is in that light that the UAE, as a nation with a steadfast economy, can afford to focus on the quality of life of its residents. Not only will this empower people to live better, happier lives but putting well-being front and centre will help attract and retain world-class talent.

Updated: June 10, 2019 10:39 PM

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