Dubai: Smiles, sunglasses and sweat were seen on the faces of a large crowd who gathered on Saturday by the Dubai Canal to mark the International Day of Happiness.
To start the whole-day happiness programme, several hundred people joined a parade the beat of bagpipes and drums from a police band. The sweltering sunshine did not seem to dampen the mood of the cheering crowd.
At the end of the parade, cannons fired out confetti and glitter, and organisers gave away bottles of cold water.
“Happiness is a journey, not a destination,” Ohood Al Roomi, the Minister of Happiness, told the crowd. “Happiness is a walk we take every day.”
“Today’s walk is just symbol of our path towards happiness and positivity as a lifestyle in the United Arab Emirates,” the minister added.
Al Roomi, who was appointed to her post in February last year, is the world’s first cabinet-level official to head up the happiness of a nation.
Immediately after she spoke, hundreds of yellow balloons – adorned with smiley faces – rose up into the sky.
The happiness camp is located right next to Safa Park, by the banks of the canal.
People at the camp can listen in on expert-led sessions on happiness and positivity, and eat from a convoy of food trucks until 8pm. Children and families can also take part in educational activities, such as colouring and yoga classes.