This is what UAE is doing to keep its residents happy

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The National Happiness Agenda aims to make UAE the happiest of all countries

By Saman Haziq

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Published: Sun 9 Apr 2017, 10:00 AM

Last updated: Tue 10 Jan 2023, 12:03 PM

March 26 will go down in the annals of UAE history as the day the country decided to announce its commitment to happiness. The country announced to the world its happiness and positivity Charter.

The world's first Happiness Minister, Ohood Al Roumi, says that happiness is very important for the UAE and a serious job for governments, tasked with creating an environment people can flourish in

Simply put, the National Happiness Agenda aims to make UAE the happiest of all countries, so that its citizens can feel proud of being part of such a nation.

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But even before the announcing the charter, the UAE laid the foundation of this initiative by appointing the world's first Happiness Minister in February 2016. Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi was named the Minister of State for Happiness in the new UAE Cabinet on February 10, 2016, heading the new ministry that aims to promote the UAE's plans, programmes and policies to promote the happiness of the UAE society.

Explaining the charter, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said: "Happiness and positivity in the UAE are a lifestyle, a government commitment and a spirit uniting the UAE community. The government system is evolving to realise the goals that every human seeks: happiness for him and his family."

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And as per the directives of the Dubai Ruler, the UAE began its journey to achieve goodness and happiness for the individual on a day-to-day basis. The National Agenda of Happiness spelled the UAE Government's commitment - through its higher policies, plans, projects and services - to establish an environment that ensures the happiness and well-being of society. Now in order to create the world's happiest government, the UAE Cabinet endorsed a number of initiatives and projects in line with the National happiness and Positivity Programme submitted by Ohood Al Roumi.

Know your 'National Happiness and Positivity Programme'

This included the appointment of CEO for Happiness and Positivity in all entities, setting up happiness and positivity councils in all entities as well. It also includes allocating hours for happiness programmes and activities in federal government as well as setup happy and positive offices. This aims at creating a happy and positive work environment continuously through implementing activities and initiatives in an innovate, efficient and effective manner.

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The happiness programme also included transforming customer service centres to customer happiness centres as well as culture-change programmes for customer service to make customers happy. It also set indicators, conducted surveys and prepared annual reports to measure happiness levels in all sectors.

Al Roumi, first publically spoke about her role and what she would try to achieve during her time in office on March 20, 2016 - the International Day of Happiness. She said: "Happiness is a serious job for governments. In 2011, the UN encouraged the member countries to look at happiness for a holistic approach for development.

"The role of the government is to create an environment where people can flourish - can reach their potential - and choose to be happy. For us in the UAE, happiness is very important," she said.

Happiness Agenda Timeline

February 2016 - Ohood Al Roumi named Minister of State for Happiness.

March 2016 - The National Happiness and Positivity Charter is announced. The Cabinet also endorses initiatives and projects in line with the National Happiness and Positivity Programme.

October 2016 - The #100DaysOfPositivity initiative is launched to help schools impart positive education to students and parents.

December 2016 - The National Survey for Happiness and Positivity is announced and launched. More than 14,000 people are polled across the country and asked about subjects including quality of life, education, learning, healthcare, society, culture, environment, infrastructure, government services, living standards and work. The results are expected in mid-2017.

February 2017- Before the World Government Summit, the Ministry of Happiness announced UAE will spearhead the creation of a unified guidebook for governments to help raise standards of happiness around the world.

March 2017 - His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, establishes the first World Happiness Council, on International Happiness Day (March 20), to send a positive message from the UAE to the world. The council will launch a yearly Global Happiness Report.

The National Happiness and Positivity programme includes 3 pillars

Happiness and positivity in government policies and services

Instill values of happiness and positivity as a lifestyle in the UAE

Develop tools to measure happiness in the community

Quick facts

Happy work environs

The National Happiness and Positivity programme's method of creating a happy work environment includes five initiatives. The first is the Corporate Happiness and Positivity Model - a unified model for all government entities with three pillars: corporate happiness culture, happy and positive staff requirements, and corporate happiness and positivity indicators.

Positivity council

The second initiative involves setting up a Happiness and Positivity Council including representatives from different sectors that cover services provided by the entity. The Council aims to align policies and services to realise community happiness, launch and follow up relevant initiatives as well as streamline happiness and positivity in internal work environment.

Happiness CEO

One of the federal government staff members was appointed Happiness and Positivity CEO to ensure a happiness and positivity culture in the entity, as well as manage relevant initiatives to spread happiness among customers and staff. The CEO will launch work environment classification programmes in public and private sectors according to happiness levels.

Hours and offices

Allocate at least two hours per month in federal government entities for happiness and positivity activities that could be allotted internally to achieve employee happiness, or externally to achieve happiness for society. Happy and positive offices in the government to create a happy and positive work environment through activities conducted in an innovate, effective manner.

When UAE embarked on its happiness journey

On March 20, 2017 - exactly a year after the National Happiness and Positivity Charter was announced - the UAE embarked on another journey. Scheduled on the International Day of Happiness this was its first-ever Happiness Journey, which included a Happiness Walk from the Dubai Water Canal to the BOXPARK, and back.

The event - which will now be celebrated annually - focused on five main values of happiness: Giving, Positivity, Gratitude, Relationships and Meaning, with each value having its own stand. Visitors took part in awareness sessions on happiness and positivity, presented by local and international scientists and experts.

Describing the walk as a sample march towards happiness and positivity as a lifestyle in the UAE, Ohood Al Roumi said: " Happiness is a journey not a destination, hence the name of our event today is the happiness journey."

Encouraging people to remain optimistic, UAE Happiness Minister Al Roumi during the happiness journey said that positivity is a perspective. "Positivity is the pair of glasses through which you view the world. If the glasses are dark, you see the world as full of disasters and evil, but with positive outlook, we see the world as full of positivity, achievements and happiness. you'll even see challenges as opportunities."

The journey was also attended and lauded by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who encouraged the diverse combination of people from various cultural backgrounds attending the event.

The UAE has been ranked as the happiest nation in the Gulf region. In the World Happiness Report of 2017, the UAE is ranked as 21st happiest nation in the world. The country stood at 28th in 2016.

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