Abdulrahman Al Ansari reviews comments made recently by the United Arab Emirates’ Minister for Happiness, where she outlined how the national press can make the country a happier place.
Due to falling global oil prices, the UAE’s government has initiated plans to move the country’s economy away from oil. Announcing the UAE’s policy to develop its human capital to spur economic activity, Emirati Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said: “Investing in human capital is the global approach in the 21st century, and the only means to achieve sustainable development that drives our country towards greater progress and prosperity.”
To foster the nation’s human capital, the UAE has created two new government positions. One of these posts is the Minister of State for Happiness. Commenting, the Emirati Prime Minister suggested that this person’s role will be ensure that UAE government policy creates “social good and satisfaction.” According to Al Jazeera, he appointed Ohood Al Roumi, the director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, as the UAE’s first Minister of State for Happiness.
UK-based newspaper The Daily Mail reports that recently, Roumi suggested that the nation’s media can help improve happiness rates in the UAE. Speaking at the recently-held Arab Media Forum in Dubai, the Minister revealed that one of her aims is to encourage local Emirati media to report more positive stories, as “happiness is contagious.”
Elaborating, Roumi argued that by focusing on the more positive aspects of everyday life, the press could give the people of the UAE and the Middle East more hope. She suggested that this will make Emiratis more optimistic, allowing them to be more creative and productive at work.
While discussing this issue at the Arab Media Forum, Roumi did admit that the Emirati press cannot afford to ignore the realities facing the wider region. However, she argued that by focusing on negative stories, the national press are exposing Emiratis to depression and leading them to believe that “the world is an awful place.” Backing up her point, the Minister said that for every criminal there are thousands of inspirational doctors and teachers, providing the UAE’s press with plenty of material to disseminate positive, as well as negative, news reports.
UAE citizens can engage with online news content more easily than ever before. Figures quoted by eMarketer suggest that the UAE leads the Middle East and North Africa among mobile users. With smartphones widely available in the UAE, its residents can now receive 24/7 access to news coverage. Therefore, the type of news content Emiratis encounter on the go via digital devices could have a significant impact on national happiness levels.
Roumi’s suggestion may hold some weight. She did not suggest that the national press exclusively report positive stories. Rather, the Minister for Happiness advised that the UAE’s media report both positive and negative stories, to provide readers with a more balanced worldview. By facilitating greater perspective, Emirati media may actually be able to help the Emirati government develop human capital and boost economic expansion.
Abdulrahman Al Ansari has more than 18 years of experience in the global financial services industry. He serves as the chairman of a number of reputable financial firms including AMA Investment Holding and Bid Capital Management Consultancy.
Abdulrahman’s professional portfolio encompasses a diverse range of sectors from commodities and natural resources to education, healthcare, oil & gas and investment banking. He has earned a reputation as an innovator, who consistently develops new ideas and solutions to address the complex and demanding challenges which confront his clients every day. Over the years, Abdulrahman has cultivated a special interest in the continued economic and community development of the UAE.