They say happiness is a state of mind, but maybe it's also a sound basis for public policy. This week, the United Arab Emirates named Ohood Al Roumi as its first minister of state for happiness, Al Jazeera reports. As such, she "will align and drive government policy to create social good and satisfaction," according to a tweet from the UAE's prime minister. Prior to the new post, Al Roumi was the director-general of the prime minister's office and the first Arab member of the United Nations Foundation's Global Entrepreneurship Council. Even without a minister of state for happiness, the UAE placed 20th on the UN's World Happiness Report in 2015. But the federation says it wants "to be the happiest of all nations so that its citizens feel proud to belong to the UAE."
According to the Washington Post, reactions to the new minister of state for happiness "ranged from celebration to bemusement." "There will also be ministers for grumpiness, sleepiness, bashfulness, and dopeyness," one quipster tweets. But there is historical precedent for the position. In 2013, Venezuela created a vice ministry of supreme social happiness and Ecuador appointed a state secretary of well-being. Back in the 1970s, Bhutan started focusing on "gross national happiness" over economic performance when looking at policies. And countries like the United Kingdom and Thailand use happiness as one official consideration when creating new policies. The UAE also announced a minister of state for tolerance this week, USA Today reports. (Here's what 53,000 kids had to say about happiness.)