The United Arab Emirates is not leaving the cheerfulness of its citizens to chance, appointing its first minister of happiness.
Ohood Al Roumi was sworn into the post this week, one of eight female ministers in the Persian Gulf nation’s 29-member Cabinet.
So just what does a minister of happiness do? Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE’s Prime Minister and the ruler of Dubai, spelled out his vision in a series of tweets, saying the new position will help create social good.
“ A new post, Minister of State for Happiness, will align and drive government policy to create social good and satisfaction.#WorldGovSummit”.
— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) February 8, 2016
Al Roumi will be joined by a new minister of tolerance, Sheikha Lubna bint Khaled al Qasimi, previously the minister of foreign trade, who became the UAE’s first female minister in 2004.
Also joining their ranks will be Shamma AlMazrui, 22, the new minister of youth affairs.
“ Shamma AlMazrui as Minister of State for Youth Affairs.She’s 22 yrs old, with Masters’ from Oxford, and BSc from NYU pic.twitter.com/cRq3bG5krT”
— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) February 10, 2016
The appointments are all part of the Cabinet’s focus on “the future, youth, happiness, developing education, and combating climate change,” the Prime Minister added.
“ With Mohammed bin Zayed, swearing in the new Ministers. We look to the future with a spirit of change and progress pic.twitter.com/RfTiNgAM4l”
— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) February 14, 2016
But just how in need of happiness is the wealthy, oil-rich nation?
According to the latest United Nations World Happiness Report, which measures everything from a nation’s generosity to its gross domestic product, the UAE is the 20th happiest country in the world.
But it seems that not everyone is feeling so chipper about the UAE’s future.
Resident Sona Bahri, who runs meditation classes, told CNN that attendance has spiked 500% in recent years as people seek a sense of calm in an increasingly fast-paced business hub.
She says she believes the UAE’s rapid modernization has also added strain to relationships.
This isn’t the first country to have a government minister dedicated to happiness.
In 2013, Venezuela reportedly created a Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness. But it didn’t appear to boost the country’s international happiness. The country dropped from 20th happiest in the world in 2013, to 23rd happiest in the world in 2015.
Will the UAE’s attempts be more successful? Time will tell. Though not everyone appears convinced. “There will also be ministers for grumpiness, sleepiness, bashfulness and dopeyness,” blogger Karl Sharro tweeted.
“The UAE created a new post of Minister of Happiness. There will also be ministers for grumpiness, sleepiness, bashfulness and dopeyness.”