Dubai: The UAE Community Development Authority (CDA) is looking to implement several initiatives to reach out to the younger generation and hear the views on how to implement the tenets of happiness.
Ayesha Saeed Hareb, CSR specialist at the CDA, told Gulf News: “We are trying several things such as encouraging volunteerism in youth. Young college students can actually volunteer to help in various initiatives in society such as special needs programmes, helping the underprivileged and so on and convert their volunteering hours into academic hours.”
She spoke on the sidelines of a student debate organised at the Amity University Dubai in Academic City on Thursday.
The debate — ‘Is Happiness a Choice?’ — had two panels of four students on each side who debated for and against the motion giving intense, well-researched declamations on the topic.
The judges for the debate — Suhail Al Ali and Maitha Ali from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), Mexican author and happiness ambassador Gloria Blendez Ramirez and representatives from PricewaterhouseCoopers as well as the General Authority of Youth and Sports — listened to the arguments. While they all agreed that one could make a choice to be in the state of happiness, they ruled in favour of the opposing team.
The students cited personal experiences, religious discourse, psychological analysis and peppered their declamations with humour keeping the ambience interactive and the audience stimulated all the time.
Everyone in the room agreed that happiness is an attitude or state of mind one could choose to be in no matter what the challenges life threw at us.
Hajra Hussain, the counsellor at Amity University, said the debate was a culmination of the ‘Big Happiness Project’ undertaken by the institution’s counselling department which included the setting up of a happiness tree on the campus, a charity drive, mindfulness and this debate to encourage and empower the students.
The concept of happiness and what it entails has become a popular topic of discussion in the corridors of the Academic City. This debate is the outcome of the UAE government’s endeavour to raise the happiness quotient in the community, Hussain said.
During the World Government Summit in Dubai held recently, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the setting up of a separate Ministry of Happiness. Prioritising happiness and appointing a Minister of State for Happiness, he said she would have the responsibility to “align and drive government policy to create social good and satisfaction”.
The UAE is ranked as the 28th happiest country in the world, according to last year’s UN World Happiness Report. Denmark, Switzerland and Iceland occupied the top three slots. The UAE was the happiest country in the region.