x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

UAE Vice President approves 100-day happiness plan

A national programme to further the country’s goals of achieving greater happiness has been approved by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

A national programme to further the country’s goals of achieving greater happiness has been approved by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

The country has adopted a 100-day plan for happiness and positivity, Sheikh Mohammed said in a series of statements on Twitter on Monday, after meeting with Ohood Al Roumi, newly appointed Minister of State for Happiness.

“Today we adopted the National Programme for Happiness and Positivity. Our ultimate goal as a government is for happiness as a way of life,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

The programme will feature several initiatives spread across three areas: happiness in government policies, programmes and services; promotion of positivity and happiness as a lifestyle in the community; and development of benchmarks and ways to measure happiness.

“All government policies, programmes and services must help instill happiness and positivity in society,” said Sheikh Mohammed. “The role of government is to create the suitable environment for individuals, families, employees to be happy and positive.”

“All our ministries and public entities must be [a] beacon of happiness in their policies, programmes, services and environment.”

The programme will stress transforming public service centres into “public happiness centres”, according to the media office, with “dedicated employees to ensure happiness of all clients”. A measurement method for happiness and positivity, a guide for customer happiness, and scientific and cultural publications are part of the plan.

Sheikh Mohammed’s announcement follows a decision last month to name Ms Al Roumi the UAE and region’s first Minister of State for Happiness, part of the biggest shake-up of the federal Government in its history.

“Happiness in the UAE is not just a hope,” he said at the time. “There will be plans, projects, programmes and indicators. It will be a part of the work of all our ministries and part of our lifestyle.”

Late last month, he explained the decision further in an open letter published on his website, in which he said he wanted to send a “clear message” to governments in the region and elsewhere about harnessing power “from within” to overcome hatred and intolerance, saying they need to “revise their roles”.

“Government, in short, should nurture an environment in which people create and enjoy their own happiness,” said Sheikh Mohammed.

“We are not new to this talk about the government’s role in promoting happiness. Since the dawn of history, happiness is all that humanity has sought.”

“Focusing on happiness is both feasible and fully justified. ... Studies have shown that happy people produce more, live longer, and drive better economic development in their communities and countries.”

In the UN’s 2015 World Happiness Report, the UAE was ranked as the 20th happiest country in the world, ahead of the UK, and the happiest Arab country. Switzerland, Iceland and Denmark topped the rankings.

On March 16, the UN says it will be announcing its 2016 World Happiness Report.

In another measure of happiness, Mercer’s 2016 annual Quality of Living index ranked the country’s biggest cities, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, at the top of a list for the Middle East and Africa.

newsdesk@thenational.ae