Here's to a happier country.
The United Arab Emirates announced last week it appointed a minister of state for happiness, solely dedicated to prioritizing the country's well-being through programs and initiatives.
Ohood Al Roumi, formerly the head of economic policy for Dubai, will assume the role. The specific details of the initiatives and duties for the position have yet to be outlined, but similarly titled officials in other governments have launched projects that focus on poverty and other social issues.
Dedicating a higher role in government to happiness could do some good. Experts say a country's happiness is crucial to enhancing its social fabric, or the connection people feel within their communities, which in turn contributes to overall well-being.
Happiness is also tied to physical health, financial security and sense of purpose, all crucial markings of a thriving society. It's almost a wonder that more countries haven't devoted government resources to studying and improving joy.
The announcement was made by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the UAE's prime minister, via Twitter on Feb. 8:
The UAE joins the happiness charge alongside Venezuela, which also appointed officials dedicated to well-being. In 2013, the country created the Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness to address issues like poverty, though it was quickly criticized for its viewpoint on happiness and how to achieve it. According to NPR, many people argued the creation of Venezuela's happiness office masked real problems within the country. The UAE has also been deeply criticized for problems of their own, including human rights issues, which is something they will hopefully consider as they move forward with the new position. Wouldn't it be great if the minister of state for happiness has a real opportunity to create positive change?
While government positions or branches dedicated to happiness aren't going to solve problems overnight, they could be crucial starts if executed properly. Smaller countries like Bhutan -- a kingdom in the Himalayas -- have been making happiness a mission for years, considering the country's well-being as important as their economic growth.
The UAE doesn't necessarily have a joy deficit, at least according to data. The country ranked No. 20 on the 2015 World Happiness Report overall, coming in higher than all other Arab regions, the New York Times reported. That being said, there's always room for improvement, which is what the new position presumably aims to do.
Can you ever really be too happy, anyway?
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