Minister of State for Happiness Uhoud Khalfan Al Roumi addresses a workshop yesterday in the upcoming national happiness survey. More than 300 researchers of various nationalities, supervisors and technical assistants will collect the data. Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: The UAE will roll out a new happiness survey starting December 12 to gauge what makes nationals, expatriates and tourists happy.

Intended to establish the baseline of happiness in the UAE and adjust government services accordingly, the survey will run until January 15.

Data collected will be highly confidential as per the federal statistics law.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, approved the national programme for happiness and positivity on March 8 of this year.

"The government will lay down the foundation for an appropriate environment to ensure the happiness and well-being of the UAE society," said Shaikh Mohammad at the March meeting where he reviewed the national programme for happiness.

"Our aim is to make happiness a lifestyle in the UAE community, as well as the noble goal and supreme objective of the government," said Shaikh Mohammad.

The programme was presented by Uhoud Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness, at the Executive Office in Dubai.

The programme features initiatives in three major areas: The inclusion of happiness in the policies, programmes and services of all government bodies, as well as the work environment there. The second area will be consolidating the values of positivity and happiness as a lifestyle in the UAE community. And finally, developing tools and indexes to gauge happiness.

On Sunday, Al Roumi said the new happiness survey will seek responses from 14,000 people, including Emiratis, residents, labourers and tourists.

Part of the survey will focus on children from ages 10-14.

The survey will be broken down into eight parts, including general living, health, education, social and cultural, infrastructure and environment, government services, living cost and work environment.

As many as 300 field surveyors will be deployed to gather data in the survey.

The exercise will be conducted by Abu Dhabi Statistics in the capital; Dubai Statistics in Dubai; the  Federal Authority for Competitiveness and Statistics in the other five other emirates.

The resulting index will be an average of all segment indexes based on the division of segments.

The announcement to conduct a survey was made on March 23 of this year when Al Roumi said the exercise was important to learn what makes people happy in the UAE.

“Measuring happiness is one of our most important objectives. We want to know what makes a stay-at-home mother happy, what makes students happy and what makes employees, labourers and elderly happy. We want to reach all segments of society and ask them what affects their happiness,” said at the time.

Al Roumi said she wanted to have a customised survey for the UAE.

In the press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office in March, Al Roumi said: “Studies found that employees who are happy are 80 per cent focused on their work, while unhappy employees are only 40 per cent focused on their work. This means that companies with unhappy employees lose 100 days of work a year.”

Al Roumi said happiness has become so important that seven Ivy League universities teach happiness and Harvard has 29 professors who teach happiness. Besides, there are 78,000 books on Amazon about happiness and there are 58 Tedx videos about happiness with over 100 million views.

Al Roumi also stressed on the importance of raising awareness, based on scientific research, among the public about the beneficial effects positivity and happiness have on their well-being. She said research has found that those who are positive are more likely to live seven-and-a-half more years than those who aren’t.

In addition to positivity, she said national identity and religious beliefs that promote giving and kindness like Islam also lead to happiness.