The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has named a female cabinet member as the minister of happiness in an attempt to make the Gulf state the world's happiest place. The announcement is part of the government's cabinet reshuffle exercise.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, prime minister and vice president of the UAE, said Ohood Al Roumi will become the first minister of the newly created happiness department. "We introduced the post of Minister of State for Happiness whose mission is to channel policies and plans to achieve a happier society," the ruler of Dubai wrote on Twitter.
Al Roumi is currently serving as director-general in the prime minister's office and will continue to hold that position also. "National happiness isn't a wish. Plans, projects, programmes, indices will inform the work of our ministries to achieve happiness," added the UAE premier.
The decision of UAE — which was ranked 20 in the World Happiness Report in 2015 and 21 in 2014 — to create a separate post for happiness and tolerance was announced earlier this week. In an official statement, the prime minister said the creation of the new ministerial role is to "align and drive government policy to create social good and satisfaction". As part of the recent cabinet reshuffle, women candidates make up nearly one-third of the UAE government's 29 federal cabinet positions.
In 2014 — during a rather low-key initiative — the Dubai administration launched an scheme called "Happiness Index Application", which allowed 14 key government bodies to monitor and "measure happiness" via websites, tablets and smartphones. The exact mechanisms of the app are unclear. Nevertheless, the oil-rich state's latest move in launching a minister-level position is thought to be part of the larger agenda, which the government has been following in recent years.
In 2013, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro mooted a similar idea by creating a new role named vice ministry of supreme social happiness. The Latin American nation's initiative was quickly followed by neighbouring Ecuador as well.