Despite what critics say, Dubai is only trying to make you happy

Comment: A government is responsible for creating the right set of conditions for you to become the best

(Image Credit: Navin Rawanchaikul, Postcards from Dubai (Day), Courtesy of the Artists and Yavuz Gallery)

(Image Credit: Navin Rawanchaikul, Postcards from Dubai (Day), Courtesy of the Artists and Yavuz Gallery)

Dubai leads the way when it comes to opening itself to critics, and – as odd as it sounds – that’s a good thing.

At its fundamental core, the obligation of a government is to lead, and Dubai leads by example, regardless of what the critics say.

On March 20, 2017, to mark the UN-inspired International Day of Happiness, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the creation of the first happiness council, a 13-person body. When making the announcement, he said the world today needs to adopt a new approach to achieve human happiness. This, of course, followed the UAE’s appointment of the world’s first Minister of Happiness, Ohood Al Roumi, in February 2016.

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle believed happiness was the purpose of human existence. The Declaration of Independence talks about happiness. Leo Tolstoy wrote near the end of his book War and Peace that as Pierre Bezukhov was imprisoned he discovered “that man is created for happiness”. The Rolling Stones wrote and sang Happy, with Keith Richards, no less, on lead vocals. Pharrell Williams sings yet another song called Happy.

Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network and a member of the UAE’s 13-body council, said in March: “Happy countries are the ones that have a healthy balance of prosperity, as conventionally measured, and social capital, meaning a high degree of trust in a society, low inequality and confidence in government.”

Happiness as imagined by the UN and the UAE is based on science, Sachs says. The rankings in the annual UN World Happiness Report (the UAE was 21 in the 2017 edition) are based on six factors: per capita gross domestic product, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, social support and absence of corruption in government or business.

When announcing Al Roumi’s appointment, Sheikh Mohammed wrote: “Governments in our region and elsewhere need … to create an environment in which people can achieve their dreams and ambitions.”

Nearly 50 years ago, Bhutan looked for a way to exclude Western influences and promote a national agenda. The king devised the Gross National Happiness philosophy.

In 2005, an American economist suggested the US should pursue a Gross National Happiness (GNH) policy; the next year, the International Institute of Management said the US should adopt a GNH attitude. Ten years after that, Thailand introduced a GNH initiative.

In a March 6, 2017, interview with the LA Times, Al Roumi said: “What is the purpose of government if it does not work toward the happiness of the people? It’s the duty and role of the government to create the right conditions for people to choose to be happy.”

And that is the point: It is the government’s job to provide the right environment for the people living in that country to be able to achieve happiness. To do this, a government and its leaders must set the tone and demand from everyone a certain level of expectation.

Dubai is trying to do this, regardless of what the critics say.

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Posted by: Common sense

"Dubai leads the way when it comes to opening itself to critics, and ? as odd as it sounds ? that?s a good thing."

I love Dubai and the UAE. I think it's a wonderful place and I have very little bad to say about it.

However your sentence above is laughable. The US and Western Europe lead the way in opening itself to critics. Dubai is a city where you can't publicly (or privately) criticize the government AT ALL or ... much else.

It sounds like you're shilling for a ... monarch and it lessens the credibility of the rest of your very good article.

Posted by: Mohammed

Dear Dubai/UAE, I am born in this country & have lot of love for it & respect. I thought to myself this is my home and would never leave. Thanks to Allah, this place has given me everything I have today.
One thing that is scary to me though, I have seen many companies firing people left right center with no sense of responsibility & I find this place extremely difficult to live without a job after I have lived all my life here. That makes me think, can I even think of staying in this place forever.
After all these years, I will still be called an expat & with no job, I will not be allowed to stay any longer.
Dear leaders of the country. We are willing to give our lives for this country. Do think of our future here. Thank you.

Posted by: Alex Ramcha

Only in Dubai ... thanks to the great vision of the ruler, he is way ahead of other world leaders of his time.

Posted by: Jackie Ruka

What a wonderful undertaking the Sheikh has devised. An outlook of the greater good for the good of all is inspiring and nice to know not lost in a world of distrust. I believe happiness development from a government perspective is honourable and offers hope to it's people. Congratulations!

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