Dubai: On Wednesday, Ohoud Al Roumi was named as UAE Minister of State for Happiness in a major government shake-up.
It is a clear declaration that the pursuit happiness among UAE citizens and residents is now part of the government's key performance indicators.
The United Arab Emirates isn’t the only government to target happiness as a worthy pursuit, though.
The founding fathers of the United States have woven the "pursuit of happiness" into their most sacred documents, with the 1776 US Declaration of Independence mentioning the word happiness -- not once, but twice.
Closer to our generation, studies have shown that happiness boosts productivity at work. In fact, a number of countries around the globe discovered the secret of weaving well-being and the pursuit of happiness into their government structures.
In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, formed the AAYUSH Ministry, also known as the Ministry of Yoga and Traditional Medicine.
Modi appointed Shripad Naik as minister, and during his first address to the United Nations in September, called for an International Yoga Day.
In 2013, Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s president, created the Vice Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness, to coordinate with the government’s social programs to improve their reach and move towards social goals, such as the elimination of poverty.
The post was appointed to Rafael Rios, a paediatrician and former lawmaker.
The kingdom of Bhutan was heading on the right track in 1971, when it stopped focusing on gross domestic product (GDP) as the only way to measure progress and established the gross national happiness (GNH).
In 2008, it created the Gross National Happiness Commission.
According to the United Nations, the concept of the GNH Index implies that sustainable development should take a holistic approach towards notions of progress and give equal importance to non-economic aspects of wellbeing.
North Korea also made it to the list with its Propaganda and Agitation Department. In July 2015, the current president, Kim Jong-un, appointed his sister, Kim Yo-jong, to lead the committee.
How happy are we?
Last year, the UAE was ranked the happiest Arab country in UN’s third World Happiness Report, and ranked 20th globally.
And with Ohoud Khalfan Al Roumi steering the post of channelling policies to achieve a happier society as Minister of Happiness, experts say we can start to expect positive changes that will in turn, also make people more productive.
Dr Eissa Al Bastaki, President of the University of Dubai, told Gulf News on Thursday he expects the new policies, indices and procedures to have a positive effect on the citizens' and residents’ level of efficiency.
“Setting up a Ministry of Happiness will create knowledge in society, and people will have more incentive to produce more than those who are unhappy,” he said.
Al Bastaki pointed out that the government will not only be looking at the happiness of people, “but will also look at the sectors of education, business, health, and other departments because collectively, all ministries play a role to the well-being of people.”