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UAE creates ministries of happiness and tolerance

DUBAI: It sounds a bit New Age, but the United Arab Emirates has just appointed state ministers for happiness, tolerance and youth.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the UAE prime minister who is also the ruler of Dubai, announced the new lineup on Wednesday via his official Twitter account.

It is apparently part of a move to show the government is offering more than simply providing basic services for its citizens.

“Happiness in our nation is not a wish .. but there will be plans, projects and programs and indicators .. and it will be part of the work of all our ministries .. and a part of our way of life,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted.

Sheikha Lubna al-Qassimi, the former development and international cooperation minister, was made state minister for tolerance.

Twenty-two year old, Western-educated Shama al-Mazroui was made state minister for youth affairs.

The United Arab Emirates, which has one of the highest levels of GDP per capita in the Arab world, is seen as a haven of stability in a region beset by turmoil and where public devotion to the rulers is high and little dissent is tolerated.

It is home to the glitzy emirate of Dubai, which transformed from a desert backwater to a global financial hub, where thousands of Arab expatriates flock to seek professional and entrepreneurial opportunities not available in as much supply in other unstable Arab countries.

Sheikh Mohammed had announced earlier this week plans to outsource most government tasks to the private sector and cuts to the number of ministries.

The announcement came as energy-rich Gulf Arab states have been hit by low oil prices, encouraging them to streamline institutions and attract more foreign investment.

The cabinet lineup left the same figures in the critical portfolios of finance, economy, energy, defence and foreign affairs.

“The new lineup is a new stage whose headline is the future … the youth … happiness … developing education … and dealing with climate change to protect our environment,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

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