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First Global Dialog on Happiness Held February 11 in Dubai

February 12, 2017

According to the World Health Organization, depression is already rapidly climbing its way into the ranks of the top three biggest diseases in the next 15 years. That's the reasoning behind holding the first Global Dialog on Happiness in Dubai on February 11, in which Governments were urged to follow Bhutan's visionary example of prioritizing citizen happiness as public policy.

His Excellency, Prime Minister of Bhutan Tshering Tobgay speaks on 'The Role of Government in Achieving Happiness during the Global Dialogue on Happiness' (Photo: ME NewsWire)

The conference, a pre-event to the 2107 World Government Summit that started February 12, brought over 300 global experts, scientists and decision makers together to discuss the issue.

The conference is a global initiative driven by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and intends to create a framework for governments to align their policies with the happiness and well-being of their people. To underscore its commitment to this initiative, the UAE has created an official cabinet-level position focused specifically on happiness.

UAE Minister of State for Happiness H.E. Ohood Bint Khalfan Al Roumi, outlined the sense of urgency and moral imperative of governments to take the well-being of their citizens seriously: “350 million people globally suffer depression and 800,000 people between the ages of 15-29 commit suicide annually.”

The UAE is tackling these concerns directly, convening global experts on happiness to build a framework to implement ideas that will potentially affect substantial positive change and build happiness in societies. According to findings from “A 75-Year Study on Human Happiness,” by Dr. Robert Waldinger, Harvard Professor of Clinical Psychology: “Close relationships were the strongest predictor of what kept people happy throughout their lives.”

Helen Clark, Administrator of the UNDP spoke about the Human Development Index and reinforced the need to measure happiness to accurately assess and compare progress across countries.

Prime Minister of Bhutan Tshering Tobgay spoke about his country’s Gross National Happiness initiative which considers responsibility of individual happiness in the same way it thinks about education, healthcare or any other public good. “Great philosophers and religious leaders have devoted their lives to teaching people how to be happy,” he said. “Why don’t governments make happiness a public good rather than relegating it to an individual pursuit?”

The 2017 World Government Summit features 150 speakers across 114 sessions that highlight the world’s most pressing challenges and showcase best practices and cutting-edge solutions to deal with them.