Ministers for happiness, tolerance in the UAE
By : Turki Al-Dakhil
On Oct. 19, 2015, Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum – vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and ruler of Dubai – launched the “Happy City” survey to assess how satisfied residents are in Dubai. Police sent out text messages entitled “Happy City” to residents to measure their happiness, and called on them to participate in the survey.
The UAE has silently worked hard for the last two decades to achieve comprehensive development that goes beyond benefiting from oil to looking after its people and establishing an exceptional infrastructure.
Maktoum told Emiratis they will celebrate exporting the last barrel of oil by fostering a non-oil economy. The UAE has achieved a miracle that other Arab countries have dreamt of since their renaissance in the 1960s. These include oil-rich countries such as Libya and Iraq – the latter is also rich with natural, agricultural and water resources. Non-oil producing countries that are rich with natural resources include Sudan, Egypt and Lebanon.
These countries’ development plans could not be fully executed due to political divisions and poor strategies. Meanwhile, the UAE has silently worked hard for the last two decades to achieve comprehensive development that goes beyond benefitting from oil to looking after its people and establishing an exceptional infrastructure.
It is a miracle because in the 1960s, the country mainly consisted of desert. There were no hospitals worth mentioning, or any universities or ministries. This was only a few decades ago.
Maktoum on Monday said his country would create a “minister for happiness” post, whose “major task will be to harmonize all state plans, projects and policies to achieve society’s happiness.” In the Gulf, development projects in one country inspire others, which is why Gulf states complement and support each other, and why many countries in the region benefit from such projects.
There will also be a UAE minister for tolerance. Emirati society has thus collaborated with its leaders to achieve distinguished individual, governmental and national development plans.
Turki Al-Dakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.
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