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UAE 20th  ‘happiest nation’ on Global Happiness Index

The United Arab Emirates has ranked 20 on the 2015 World Happiness Report published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative for the United Nations, released on April 23 and reproduced below.

UAE is ranked among 158 countries on the index that took into account GDP per capita, life expectancy, social support and freedom to make life choices as indicators of happiness.

The UAE gets special mention in the report, citing the Dubai Plan 2021, launched by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in December of 2014. The Ruler is lauded as among the few global leaders who are talking about the importance of well-being as a guide for their nations.

Shaikh Mohammed has said: “The first objective for the Dubai Plan 2021 is achieving people’s happiness.”

Dubai Plan 2021 itself covers six themes “that describe the vision for Dubai: a city of happy, creative and empowered people; an inclusive and cohesive society; the preferred place to live, work and visit; a smart and sustainable city; a pivotal hub in the global economy; and a pioneering and excellent government. The strategy was developed after extensive consultations involving civil society, the private and the public sectors.”

In addition, as mentioned in the report, Shaikh Mohammed has written an open letter to all Federal government employees reminding them of their core mission: providing world class services to the people of UAE with the goal of contributing to their happiness. His open letter is a testament to the strong commitment demonstrated by the UAE leadership towards making happiness a national policy goal.

Among UAE’s neighbouring countries, Oman ranked 22, Qatar ranked 28 and Saudi Arabia ranked 35 on the list.

Meanwhile in the South Asia, India has not fared well in a global ranking of the happiest nations, coming in at the 117th spot.

Switzerland has been named as the happiest country in the world, coming in at the number one spot on the 2015 World Happiness Report published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), which is a global initiative for the United Nations.

The other countries in the top five are Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada.

India’s rank is 117, below nations like Pakistan (81), Palestine (108), Bangladesh (109), Ukraine (111) and Iraq (112). Its rank dropped six notched from the 2013 report, when it was on the 111 spot.

“Increasingly happiness is considered a proper measure of social progress and goal of public policy,” the report said, adding the happiness index describes how measurements of well- being can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations.

It takes into account factors like GDP per capita, social support of having someone to count on in times of trouble, freedom to make life choices, healthy life expectancy, generosity and perceptions of corruption.

The US is ranked 15, followed by UK (21), Singapore (24), Saudi Arabia (35), Japan (46) and China (84).

Afghanistan and war-torn Syria joined eight sub-Saharan countries in Africa — Togo, Burundi, Benin, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea and Chad — as the 10 least happy of 158 countries.

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SDSN Poster 2015

World Happiness Report 2015 Ranks Happiest Countries

Seen as source for world leaders as they set to adopt Sustainable Development Goals

April 23, 2015

NEW YORK, April 23 – Since it was first published in 2012, the World Happiness Reportdemonstrated that well-being and happiness are critical indicators of a nation’s economic and social development, and should be a key aim of policy. This year’s report looks at the changes in happiness levels in 158 countries, and examines the reasons behind the statistics. The World Happiness Report 2015 also comes in advance of three high-level negotiations that will give world leaders the opportunity to reshape the global agenda and move the world towards a sustainable development agenda that includes well-being as an essential element.

“The aspiration of society is the flourishing of its members,” said Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University. “This report gives evidence on how to achieve societal well-being. It’s not by money alone, but also by fairness, honesty, trust, and good health. The evidence here will be useful to all countries as they pursue the new Sustainable Development Goals.”

The report, produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), contains analysis from leading experts in the fields of economics, neuroscience, national statistics, and describes how measurements of subjective well-being can be used effectively to assess national progress. The report is edited by Professor John F. Helliwell, of the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; Professor Richard Layard, Director of the Well-Being Programme at LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance; and Professor Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute and SDSN.

The first World Happiness Report, released in 2012 ahead of the UN high-level meeting on Happiness and Well-being, drew international attention as a landmark first survey of the state of global happiness. This latest report digs even deeper into the data looking at country trends since the first report, regional indicators, factors in gender and age, and the importance of investing in social capital.

The report identifies the countries with the highest levels of happiness:

  1. Switzerland
  2. Iceland
  3. Denmark
  4. Norway
  5. Canada

“As the science of happiness advances, we are getting to the heart of what factors define quality of life for citizens,” said Helliwell. “We are encouraged that more and more governments around the world are listening and responding with policies that put well-being first. Countries with strong social and institutional capital not only support greater well-being, but are more resilient to social and economic crises.”

As previous reports have done, The World Happiness Report 2015 reveals trends in the data judging just how happy countries really are. On a scale running from 0 to 10, people in over 150 countries, surveyed by Gallup over the period 2012-15, reveal an average score of 5.1 (out of 10). Six key variables explain three-quarters of the variation in annual national average scores over time and among countries: real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity (Table 2.1). This year for the first time ever, the Report breaks down the data by gender, age, and region. It finds striking differences, some much larger than have previously been found.

“A positive outlook during the early stages of life is inherently desirable, but it also lays the foundation for greater happiness during adulthood,” said Layard. “As we consider the value of happiness in today’s report, we must invest early on in the lives of our children so that they grow to become independent, productive and happy adults, contributing both socially and economically.”

The World Happiness Report 2015 shows that at both the individual and national levels, all measures of well-being, including emotions and life evaluations, are strongly influenced by the quality of the surrounding social norms and institutions. These include family and friendships at the individual level, the presence of trust and empathy at the neighborhood and community levels, and power and quality of the over-arching social norms that determine the quality of life within and among nations and generations. When these social factors are well-rooted and readily available, communities and nations are more resilient.

The report also demonstrates that a key national challenge is to ensure that policies are designed and delivered in ways that enrich the social fabric, and teach the power of empathy to current and future generations. Under the pressures of putting right what is obviously wrong, there is often too little attention paid to building the vital social fabric. According to the report, paying greater attention to the levels and sources of subjective well-being has helped us to reach these conclusions, and to recommend making and keeping happiness as a central focus for research, policy and practice.

For media inquiries please contact Kyu Lee: klee@ei.columbia.edu or +1 646-337-3528

About the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN):

Launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in August 2012, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) mobilizes scientific and technical expertise from academia, civil society, and the private sector in support of sustainable development problem solving at local, national, and global scales. We aim to accelerate joint learning and help to overcome the compartmentalization of technical and policy work by promoting integrated approaches to the interconnected economic, social, and environmental challenges confronting the world.

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