The UAE is keen on promoting happiness. It appointed a Minister of State for Happiness and launched the National Programme for Happiness and Wellbeing. Read about these and other efforts.
Under the pillar of Cohesive Society and Preserved Identity of National Agenda, by the year 2021, the UAE Government aims for the country to be among the best in the world in the Human Development Index and the happiest of all nations so that its citizens feel proud to belong to the UAE.
On 7 March 2016, H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai reviewed National Programme for Happiness and Wellbeing (formerly: National Programme for Happiness and Positivity) presented by Her Excellency Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi.
The programme sets government policies, programmes and services that can promote virtues of positive lifestyle in the community and a plan for the development of a happiness index to measure people's satisfaction.
The programme covers three areas:
The programme will include Emiratis as well as expatriate residents and visitors. It seeks to encourage government and private sectors to launch, recommend and adopt initiatives in that regard.
The plan will also include initiatives for publishing scientific and cultural contents, books on happiness, and encouragement of reading about the importance of wellbeing and happiness as a way of an integrated lifestyle.
National Charter for Happiness
On 20 March 2016, Sheikh Mohammed approved National Programme for Happiness which will serve as National Charter for Happiness. He also approved several initiatives that aim to create happy and productive work environment at federal government offices.
Some of the initiatives are:
Appointing CEOs for happiness
The competent minister or the board chairman will appoint CEOs of happiness and wellbeing, with a view to enhance the culture of happiness and wellbeing. The CEO will coordinate with the Ministry of Community Development to implement initiatives of the National Programme of Happiness and wellbeing in government entities.
The CEO will also manage and coordinate initiatives and projects to promote happiness and wellbeing among staff and customers, as well as launching programs to classify the work environment in the public and private sectors according to their levels of happiness.
Establishing councils for happiness and wellbeing at federal entities
The council for happiness and wellbeing will include representatives of various sectors and areas. It aims to ensure that all plans and services follow a unified approach to realise happiness and wellbeing.
Allocating time in federal entities for happiness-related programmes and activities
These activities aim at instilling happiness and wellbeing culture inside the federal government entity or outside to ensure community happiness.
Customer Happiness Formula
On 10 May 2016, Her Excellency Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi unveiled Customer Happiness Formula. The formula aims to provide an effective tool for government employees to achieve the happiness goals under National Programme for Happiness and wellbeing. The launch of the Customer Happiness Formula highlights the government's commitment to provide services that achieve customer happiness and ensure the happiness of the entire community.
The formula consists of three main components:
Training for Chief Happiness and wellbeing Officers
In July 2016, the UAE Government announced that 60 Chief Happiness and wellbeing Officers from federal and local government entities will undergo training to understand the 'science of happiness' and implement it. The training programme consists of five pillars which are:
The programme includes lectures, seminars, educational benchmarking visits to see the best global practices and experiences in the field and a set of applications and workshops. The programme will be implemented from September 2016 to January 2017. The Chief Happiness and wellbeing Officers will design and implement projects to promote happiness and wellbeing in government departments and society.
Friends of Happiness Platform
On April 2017, the National Happiness and wellbeing Programme launched the ‘Friends of Happiness’ platform, an electronic portal that seeks to encourage public involvement in the programme’s initiatives and to rally support for the government’s efforts to promote happiness and wellbeing.
The initiative seeks to spread awareness about the importance of happiness and wellbeing, as well as to establish partnerships between the government and the community, individuals and organisations that endorse happiness as a practice in all sectors and support the government’s projects during the ’ Year of Giving.’
Happiness Research Institute
On March 2017, The UAE University (UAEU) in collaboration with the National Programme for Happiness and wellbeing established Emirates Center for Happiness Research, the first of its kind in the UAE and the Middle East.
The Center aims to realise the objectives of the National Programme for Happiness and wellbeing and conduct specialised scientific studies related to the science of happiness, and measuring and assessing happiness indices. It also aims to enhance the UAE’s contribution to enriching the scientific content of happiness at the global level.
Learn about more initiatives launched by National Programme for Happiness and Wellbeing.
In February 2016, the UAE Government created the post of Minister of State for Happiness and appointed Her Excellency Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi as the Minister. Her main responsibility was to harmonise all government plans, programmes and policies to achieve a happier society.
Following the Cabinet reshuffle in 2017, another portfolio was added to the Minster of State for Happiness to become the Minster of State for Happiness and Wellbeing.
In the cabinet reshuffle in July 2020, the "Quality of Life and Happiness" portfolio was transferred to Ministry of Community Development. Read about the new structure of the UAE Government.
Wellbeing Academy is a virtual academy that aims to offer programmes to federal and local government entities on how to integrate the principles of well-being into their programmes, initiatives, policies and services. It also aims to promote personal well-being.
Wellbeing Academy was launched to implement the pillars of National Strategy for Wellbeing 2031. It is built on six practical pillars for integrating the concept of well-being into government work. The pillars are:
The academy’s training courses include specialised programmes and courses on well-being in government work, well-being at the workplace, introductory seminars on well-being, open-source online courses and interactive sessions with experts.
The programmes at Wellbeing Academy include remote interactive meetings with a selection of elite international speakers from various disciplines and fields related to well-being in government. The programmes also include interaction for exchanging experience and best practices, which would provide the employees of the UAE Government the skills for enhancing efficiency and improving the workplace environment.
The academy's programmes are designed in collaboration with top national and international experts and in partnership with prestigious international institutions such as The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Columbia University, Harvard Business Review and The What Works Network.
View courses and start learning at Wellbeing Academy.
National Programme for Happiness and Well-Being launched a Guide to Happiness and Well-being at workplace.
The purpose of the guide is to help government entities and other stakeholders in the private sector and non-profit organisations discover how to foster the conditions necessary for employees to thrive and flourish at work in terms of productivity and engagement.
The employee’s happiness at workplace is critical because it is often directly reflected in the quality and volume of services an institution offers to its customers.
An emphasis on happiness and well-being raises morale across an organisation, boosts engagement at work and builds trust and loyalty among colleagues and between the employees and the institution itself.
The guide outlines four fundamental pillars that underpin the development of a positive workplace culture which is supportive of happiness and wellbeing. Read about the Guide to Happiness and Well-being at workplace.
UN World Happiness Report 2020
The United Arab Emirates maintained its first place among the Arab countries for the sixth consecutive year, according to World Happiness Report 2020 (PDF, 500 KB). The UAE maintained its advanced position globally and surpassed many developed countries and economies in the global report issued annually by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).
This year’s report includes a special indicator called ‘Cities Happiness Index’ that captures the level of happiness in cities. The index ranks 186 cities around the world by assessing the level of happiness and lives of the cities’ inhabitants. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the happiest cities in the Arab region.
Read related coverage on WAM.
UN World Happiness report 2018
According to UN World Happiness Report 2018, the UAE came first in the Arab world for the fourth consecutive year and ranked 20th among 156 countries globally, advancing one rank from last year. Measuring the happiness index of UAE nationals only, the UAE ranked 11th globally , while for the happiness of expatriate residents in 117 countries, the UAE ranked 19th.
UN World Happiness report 2017
According to UN World Happiness Report 2017, the UAE came first in the Arab world for the third consecutive year and ranked 21st as the happiest globally, advancing eight ranks.
The UAE would, however, rank 12th globally if only UAE nationals were taken into account, as the 2017 report included a separate table of results for nationals and non-nationals in some Gulf countries with varying scores.
UAE also ranked first globally regarding the satisfaction of residents from other countries.
World Happiness report 2016
As per World Happiness Report 2016, published by Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative for the United Nations, the UAE was ranked 28th globally and 1st amongst Arab countries.
It was placed ahead of some of other advanced countries like France (at 32nd rank), Spain (at 37th rank) and Italy (at 50th rank). The report recognises that the UAE is amongst the four countries in the world that have a Minister of Happiness in their Cabinet.
The UAE has maintained its leading position in the Arab World since the report was launched four years ago; thus, realising its remarkable achievements in the political, economic, social, educational, health, tourism and environmental fields.
Dubai Plan 2021 addresses the urban environment including both natural and built assets, and looks at the living experience of the people of Dubai. It focuses other aspects such as economy too. The Plan is divided into 6 themes. The first theme, 'The people', aims to achieve their happiness.
Happiness Meter is one of Dubai's first strategic 'smart city' initiatives. The metre represents a measurement of the happiness goal. Through a centralised data dashboard, a map of happiness across the city will allow private sector and government entities that host happiness metre touch points, to relate and rank customer experiences within industry sectors and geographic areas, as well as differentiate between direct and web based interactions. It is among the first of its kind in the world to measure experiences across an entire city, including private sector and government entities in parallel.