The prime minister of the United Arab Emirates says “national happiness isn’t a wish,” and in order to make good on his promise, he’s appointed a minister of state for happiness.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the 12th government of the UAE as part of the largest structural change in the country’s history. The announcement impacts organisational structure and functions of key ministries, and includes the support of several new Ministers of State to meet the ongoing demands of an evolving economic and social landscape.

The new government includes eight new ministers, five of whom are women. The average age of the new ministers is only 38 years, with the youngest minister is a 22 year old female.

The new government has seen the addition of ministers for Tolerance, the Future, Youth, Happiness and Climate Change. Supporting the education sector will be two new minsters in addition to the current minister, as well as the formation of the Supreme Council for Education to oversee their work, as well as the formation of the Youth Council and the Council of UAE Scientists.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said that the new government and 12th Cabinet was announced after consultation with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and after the approval of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the UAE. He affirmed that the new team would lead in achieving the future aspirations of the nation.

New ministers of the government of the UAE (top-left to right) Minister of Happiness, Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of the Federal National Council, Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Youth, Shamma bint Sohail Faris AlMazrui, Minister of Education, Jameela bint Salem Al Muhairi, (bottom-i. to d.), the Minister, Najla bint Mohammed Al Awar Community Development, the Environment Minister, Ahmed bin Thani Al-Zeyoudi, Higher Education Minister, Ahmad Abdulla bin Humaid Belhoul Alfalasi, and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bowardi. Photo: EFE

New ministers of the government of the UAE (top-left to right) Minister of Happiness, Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of the Federal National Council, Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Youth, Shamma bint Sohail Faris AlMazrui, Minister of Education, Jameela bint Salem Al Muhairi, (bottom-i. to d.), the Minister, Najla bint Mohammed Al Awar Community Development, the Environment Minister, Ahmed bin Thani Al-Zeyoudi, Higher Education Minister, Ahmad Abdulla bin Humaid Belhoul Alfalasi, and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bowardi. Photo: EFE

In 2013, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced the creation of a new “vice ministry of supreme social happiness.”

The idea of crafting policy based around happiness did not originate in South America. In 1972, Bhutan’s King Jigme Singye Wangchuc suggested that the country would put a “gross national happiness” (GNH) index rather than economic activity at the center of its public policy.

Bhutan’s big idea has since proven popular around the world and now a variety of countries all around the world – including Thailand and the United Kingdom – have begun measuring happiness with an aim to using it to devise policy.