The UAE's Newest Cabinet Position Might Sound Quirky, But It's Meant To Effect Real Change

"We should strive for higher goals."

On Wednesday, United Arab Emirates Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced the creation of a new cabinet position.

"A new post, Minister of State for Happiness, will align and drive government policy to create social good and satisfaction," he tweeted.

The prime minister appointed Ohood Al Roumi, who also serves as the director general of the prime minister's office, to fill the new position. Al Roumi is one of seven women named to the 29-post cabinet this week.

"The Ministry of Happiness sounds sort of Orwellian and sinister given that this is a surveillance state, but it is in line with their quite high self-regard," Nicholas McGeehan, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, told the The New York Times.

Sheikh Mohammed announced Ohood Al Roumi's new position on Twitter.


According to the 2015 World Happiness Report, the UAE is currently the 15th happiest nation in the world, but Sheikh Mohammed has high aspirations for the future. The prime minister previously declared his intention to make the United Arab Emirates "one of the best countries" and has even penned several poems on the subject of happiness in his country.

"The government feels that we have provided basic services so far, education and health, so now we should strive for higher goals," Abdulkhaliq Abdulla, an Emirati political scientist, told The New York Times.

Venezuela and Ecuador have previously created similar Minister of Happiness positions.

"Happiness in the UAE is not just a hope," Sheikh Mohammed said, according to NBC News. "There will plans, projects, programs and indicators."

Cover image via Chris Jackson/Getty Images.


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