x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

UAE has many reasons to be cheerful, Gallup survey finds

The UAE is the 25th 'most positive' country in the world, with more than three quarters of Emiratis and Arab expatriates reporting cheerful emotions.

The UAE tied with Mali, Britain and five others in a survey released on Thursday by Gallup. Delores Johnson / The National
The UAE tied with Mali, Britain and five others in a survey released on Thursday by Gallup. Delores Johnson / The National

DUBAI // The UAE is the 25th "most positive" country in the world, with more than three quarters of Emiratis and Arab expatriates reporting cheerful emotions.

The country tied with Mali, Britain and five others in a survey released yesterday by Gallup. It ranked third in the Middle East.

Umm Jana, a 33-year-old from Iraq, thinks so many UAE residents are content because they feel safe.

"Life here is beautiful. It is not complicated," she said, cooing at her baby on The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence. "There is no safety in the other places: Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon."

Panama and Paraguay topped the Gallup list, which included 148 countries and territories. The most sanguine countries in the Middle East were Kuwait and Oman, which tied in 16th place with three other countries.

The data for the survey was gathered last year. Researchers asked about 1,000 people in each of the countries five questions about their previous day: whether they felt well-rested, whether they had been treated with respect, whether they learnt or did something interesting, whether they had smiled or laughed a lot and whether they had experienced a lot of enjoyment.

Gallup ranked countries based on the average percentage of people who said yes to questions. In the UAE, 77 per cent responded favourably. The margin of error was between three and four per cent.

The "least positive" country was Singapore, followed by Armenia and Iraq.

UAE participants were surveyed face-to-face in Arabic. The survey did not reach non-Arab expatriates; researchers estimated more than half of the adult population was not represented.

It is difficult to estimate how the results might have varied had a representative sample been used.

Reham Alvi, 39, from Pakistan, speculated the UAE would have scored lower. He believes Emiratis are generally treated better than others. "I think life is more comfortable for the Emiratis," he said.

But Mr Alvi said he was happy in the UAE, where he has lived for one-and-a-half years.

"The living standard is very comfortable," he said. "As compared to my country, the most important thing is law implementation and comfort - and a high level of living."

Pakistani expatriate Sohaib Baqa, 23, said he felt "peace of mind" in the UAE, but added it was a "very fast life" with lots of hard work.

One reason some expatriates report positive emotions is that they come from countries where life is dangerous or very difficult, Umm Jana said. Iraq, her country, ranked 146th on the Gallup list.

Ghaith Al Cherka, a 19-year-old law student who grew up in the UAE, said there were more opportunities here than in his homeland, Syria. "In Syria there is no work," he said. "The security here is 100 per cent. Also, there are a lot of malls."

Akram Saadaoui, 27, from Tunisia, said he was optimistic about his future here: "I will get my chance."

Amani Abu El Soud, an 18-year-old engineering student, said she felt happy in the UAE because she felt free.

"The freedom and the security," said Ms El Soud, who is Palestinian. "I can go out any time I want with anyone I want to go with."

Worldwide, people were optimistic. In all but the bottom three countries, more than half of those surveyed responded favourably, on average, to five questions about their emotions.

"Despite many global challenges, people worldwide are experiencing many positive emotions," said Jon Clifton, a partner at Gallup.

vnereim@thenational.ae