Lonely Planet Writer

UAE appoints Minister for Happiness

It may sound a bit far-fetched but it’s true – the United Arab Emirates has created its own Minister for Happiness.

UAE wants to uplift its people by creating a Ministry for Happiness and a separate Ministry for Tolerance
UAE wants to uplift its people by creating a Ministry for Happiness and a separate Ministry for Tolerance Image by Abdulla Al Muhairi / CC BY 2.0

And the rulers didn’t stop there – they have established a Ministry of Tolerance too. Conscious that there is a lack of happiness and tolerance within its ranks, the Brisbane Times reports that the Sheikhs have made sweeping changes in the 44-year history of their rule by creating the two new ministries.

Happiness is on political agenda in the UAE as a Minister is appointed in the Gulf State
Happiness is on the political agenda in the UAE as a Minister is appointed in the Gulf State
Image by Blondinrikard Fröberg / CC BY 2.0

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum made the announcement on Twitter. Well-known in Western horse racing circles, the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai said his country was embarking on “a new journey of achievement.” He said that the new position of Minister of State for Happiness was founded to create “social good and satisfaction.” Sheikh Mohammed went on to say in another English-language post that the other Ministry has been created to promote tolerance as a core value in their society.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum  made the announcements that two new ministers - one for Happiness and one for Tolerance were being created by the UAE rulers
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum (right) made the announcements that two new ministers – one for Happiness and one for Tolerance – were being created by the UAE rulers Image by ITU Pictures / CC BY 2.0

Women will head up the two ministries; Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid al-Qasimi, at Tolerance and Ohoud al-Roumi at Happiness. A third woman, Shamma al-Mazroui (22), was appointed State Minister for Youth Affairs. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, an Emirati political scientist, said the UAE government were now of the view that they have provided education and health services and it is time to strive for higher goals.

Of course, not everyone believes such ministries can work. Nicholas McGeehan, a researcher at Human Rights Watch said the Happiness minister has a sort of Orwellian sound to it, but is in line with the rulers own lofty self-regard. With many unelected royals in the government, Mr McGeehan added you could be happy provided you don’t criticize them.

The cabinet reshuffle saw the same figures remaining in the important portfolios of finance, energy, defence, economy and foreign affairs. In the 2015 World Happiness Report, the UAE came in at No 20, with Switzerland at No 1 and the USA at No 15.