Happiest Place in the World: UAE #1 Arab country; among top worldwide

Report recognises the UAE among just four countries in the world that have a Minister of Happiness among their Cabinet positions. (Shutterstock)

The UAE once again leads the region in the World Happiness Report, a landmark survey of the state of global happiness.

The 2016 update of the annual report (published since 2012) ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels, and the UAE is perched at #28 globally, ahead of some of the other advanced economies like France (#32), Spain (#37) and Italy (#50).

The country also fares better than some of the other expat hotspots, like Malaysia (#47) and Hong Kong (#75) even as it ranks among the top fifth globally.

This year, the report was published in Rome in advance of UN World Happiness Day, March 20.

The report, prepared by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, ranks countries based on happiness levels using factors such as per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and healthy years of life expectancy.

Leading experts across fields – economics, psychology, survey analysis, national statistics, health, public policy and more – describe how measurements of well-being can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations.

The reports review the state of happiness in the world today and show how the new science of happiness explains personal and national variations in happiness. They reflect a new worldwide demand for more attention to happiness as a criteria for government policy.

In the Arab world, the UAE is ranked #1, followed by Saudi Arabia (global rank: #34), Qatar (#36), Algeria (#38), Kuwait (#41) and Bahrain (#42) – all of which rank among the top 50 worldwide.

The report recognises the UAE among just four countries in the world that have a Minister of Happiness among their Cabinet positions.

“The cause of happiness as a primary goal for public policy continues to make good progress,” says the report. “So far, four national governments – Bhutan, Ecuador, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela – have appointed ministers of happiness responsible for coordinating their national efforts,” it notes.

“There are many more sub-national governments – from large states like Jalisco in Mexico to many cities and communities around the world – that are now committed to designing policies enabling people to live happier lives,” it says.

Globally, the top 10 this year were Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden. Denmark was in third place last year, behind Switzerland and Iceland.

The bottom 10 were Madagascar, Tanzania, Liberia, Guinea, Rwanda, Benin, Afghanistan, Togo, Syria and Burundi.