The UAE's Minister of Happiness talks about her mission
“Happiness can’t be mandated, demanded, or enforced. It must be encouraged and nurtured,” explains our new Minister of Happiness.
Today is World Happiness Day, and so especially for the occasion our Minister of State for Happiness, Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, has written a piece outlining what her role is all about.
“I’m delighted to join in the celebration of this year’s International Day of Happiness,” Al Roumi writes.
“But, to be honest, my focus is on the other 364 days of the year. After all, I am in the happiness business,” she explains in her opinion piece on website Project Syndicate.
She explains in the article that delivering happiness to a nation “means going beyond statistics, to comprehend that we are all individuals with our own hopes, fears, and aspirations”.
While she says the public sector considers happiness a serious business, part of her job is also to “encourage private-sector companies to place a value on it in their everyday operations”.
So, according to Al Roumi – who is an expert in the stuff, what is happiness? “Happiness is knowing that you and your family are safe; that there is opportunity open to you and your children; and that you can depend on a high degree of care, dignity, and fairness in your society,” she writes.
In the article, Al Roumi also points out that happiness is something she personally works on: “In my ten years working in government, I have personally encountered no situation that could not be handled with a smile, a little consideration, and a touch of positivity. Happiness is something I take personally and believe in passionately.”
She also outlines some very specific plans for fostering happiness in the UAE in her article – here’s what she says…
AL ROUMI’S HAPPINESS PLAN
– She points out that being able to monitor and measure happiness – and figuring out ways to do so – is a key part of her initial plan.
– Al Roumi points out in her letter that “we live in a tough neighbourhood” as far as happiness goes. “The Middle East is usually not associated with happiness; at times, the bad news from our region seems to drown out the good. And yet we are all bound by the desire to see ourselves and our loved ones thrive and be the best we can be. That spirit is within us all, and by celebrating it and strengthening it, we can aspire to offer peace, security, tolerance, positivity, and respect.”
– She says the government needs “to encourage the private sector to join us” on its happiness mission. Adding, “we must ensure that… our country’s entrepreneurs act on the basis of enlightened self-interest… Just as GDP is not the only benchmark to define a country’s success, profit alone cannot define a company’s success. In our connected and social world, where opinion, news, and information travel at the speed of light, happiness is a competitive advantage; indeed, it is central to a company’s brand.”
– She notes that a key element is “defining new approaches to services and service delivery”, meaning the public service need to create structures to continue to think customer first with all of their services.
UAE TALKS TO UN ABOUT HAPPINESS
Meanwhile, in New York, the UAE’s permanent representative of the UAE to the United Nations, Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh, spoke to the UN about the UAE’s happiness mission.
“One of the major achievements of the Federation, in my view, is realising happiness for its society,” said Ambassador Nusseibeh. She also discussed how important women’s rights are to the UAE’s happiness: “The UAE firmly believes that gender parity and promoting women’s rights and participation are at the core of peaceful and prosperous societies.”
Photos: Twitter/Dubai Media Office.