Ministry of Happiness wants to know UAE residents better
Ohood Khalfan Al Roumi addressing the media at Office of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers on Wednesday. She has been wearing the huge badge with al sa'ada (Arabic for happiness) written on it since the took oath as the Minister of Happiness. - Photo by Juidin Bernarrd
Abu Dhabi - The ministry will have questionnaires - with personal questions - to get acquainted with the needs of the UAE residents.
In a move to bring joy to people from all walks of life, the Ministry of Happiness will have questionnaires - with personal questions such as gender and age - to get acquainted with the needs of the UAE residents and thereby to make their lives more positive.
"After the completion of surveys and studies, the ministry will accordingly begin implementing the projects and programmes this year," said Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness, on Wednesday, at a meeting with the media.
"The survey is being prepared in coordination with various government sectors like health, housing, commerce and economy, including 50 government entities and 90,000 federal government employees," she said noting that the private sector corporations and companies will also be included in the survey.
Each entity has a duty to implement the UAE's happiness agenda, and international reports in this context will be taken into account, she added.
|Road to happiness > Happiness is a way of life, said Al Roumi|
> Questionnaires will be prepared to get acquainted with the needs of residents
> Projects and programmes will accordingly be implemented this year itself
> Services of 5,000 government employees working in the customer service sector will be upgraded
> Any new decision will be reviewed for its impact on society and its happiness factor
"The Ministry of Happiness will interact with the different ministries, governments and private entities to set up what is known as 'sustainable happiness'," she said, adding that a system will be rolled out soon with incentives for the private sector to be applied to its employees.
For Al Roumi, promoting happiness and positivity at government workplaces is a must, because scientific studies show that a happy employee produces twice as much as an unhappy one.
The least happy workers are said to be spending 40 per cent of their time doing what they are there to do, compared with happy workers, who are said to spend 80 per cent of their time on work-related tasks, she noted.
"International indices are important, but the prime objective is to achieve happiness and make not just each and every Emirati, but every expatriate happy as well, and create a positive and inclusive environment," she said.
Work is underway to upgrade the services of 5,000 government employees working in the customer service sector which will help provide delight and happiness to the public, she added. Other mechanisms will follow and the work environment of employees will be reviewed with an eye towards improving them.
She said the ministry has reviewed several international reports, newspaper reports and reactions to the announcement of the Ministry of Happiness. The ministry has also gone through submitted proposals which have contributed to drawing up a concrete plan.
The ministry, according to her, is endeavoring to shift government work to another level so that employees can lead happier lives and be provided living and financial skills. An employee, she argues, is not merely the holder of a university degree, but is knowledgeable about culture. As an example, she pointed to the Ministry of Health and other health authorities, which not only provides treatment, but also guidance for a healthy and positive lifestyle.
"Any decisions taken will be reviewed for its impact on society and its happiness factor will be considered, and might be amended if found to cause damage to happiness. Some rules and laws will also be reviewed with the aim of improving them and keeping them in line with the new agenda," she said.
CEOs of Happiness in government departments will be selected from among employees for the post and will be trained to carry out their duties in the most effective way, she noted.
"The duty is not a power, but rather a challenge to change some negative cultures and attitudes and create an atmosphere of positivity for the UAE's society and for those who are living in the country, along with providing them a suitable environment for their aspirations and suggestions," she noted.
She added that 29 professors are teaching happiness at Harvard University, 78,000 titles about happiness are being advertised on online retailer Amazon, and 58 talks about happiness on TED, the non-profit organistaion devoted to spreading ideas in the form of short and powerful talks, have been viewed by 100,000,000 people.
At Wednesday's event, the down-to-earth Al Roumi eschewed the title of Her Excellency, and seemed pleased to face reporters for the first time since being appointed to her post. She appeared before the audience cheerfully and with a smile on her face, and answered all questions posed to her.
"Our cups are always filled with water," she said, referring to the expression, 'is the glass half empty or half full?'