The UAE might be investing in blockchain, IoT and other non-oil sectors and technologies, but most importantly, it has been investing in the happiness of its citizens, both local and expat.
It launched its National Programme for Happiness in 2016, and appointed a Minister of State for Happiness. In 2017, Dubai launched the world’s first “World Happiness Council.”
Today, it is reaping the benefits.
On the International Happiness Day which coincides on March 20th, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) released its annual World Happiness Report (WHR), ranking 156 countries based on their happiness averages from 2016-2018. Once more, the UAE has continued to outperform.
For the 5th consecutive year, the UAE has ranked 1st in the Gulf region. Internationally, it came 21st, one spot below last year’s, replaced by the Czech Republic. It ranked better than countries like Spain and France.
Saudi, on the other hand, came in 28th place. Bahrain followed at 37th. Kuwait ranked 51st.
Elsewhere in the Middle East and beyond, Lebanon came in at 91st. Jordan ranked 101st. Egypt was 137th. India came in at 140th. The United States secured a position for itself in the top 20, coming it at 19th place.
As for the top 10 happiest countries, the list goes:
8. New Zealand
According to a statement issued by the SDSN, “Results from the most recent World Happiness Report, released on March 20, 2019 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, indicate positive trends for the UAE since 2016.”
“The UAE nationals recorded high happiness scores,” the statement continued. “Furthermore, living in the UAE shows a positive impact on the lives of residents; the happiness scores of residents living in the UAE are higher than their scores in their home countries.”
In recent years, the UAE has implemented several pieces of legislation to make the lives of expats better. In 2018, the country announced a 10-year expat visa which went into effect this year. It also made it possible for foreigners to obtain 100% ownership of a business in certain trade zones. To encourage young talent to remain in the country, students with exceptional academic performance will qualify for a five-year visa for themselves and their families.