UAE's status as one of the happiest nations is not built on roads and its healthcare system: LuLu's Adeeb Ahamed

As one of the most prosperous nations in the Arab world, the UAE is no stranger to the idea of a happy society. The country is tasked with managing the aspirations of a huge expat population alongside that of its own citizens.

Daunting if one thinks about it, but the UAE has found the right balance, consistently ranking among the happiest nations in the world – at 27th, and among the top nations when it comes to the satisfaction of residents from other countries. This validation is much deserved, considering that the past 15 months have been a test unlike any for a nation whose expat population outnumbers local citizens nine to one.

As the first nation in the world to have a dedicated Ministry of Happiness to harmonize all government plans, programmes and policies to achieve a happier society, not just has the UAE upped the existing high standards of healthcare, education and social security systems, but also opened up non-traditional and capital-intensive sectors that are niche and futuristic. What’s helped here is the focus on becoming a knowledge hub, with knowledge seen as key to the central idea of happiness.

Then there is the aspect of becoming a leader in digital adoption. Digitization has crept into almost every aspect, and the UAE’s entry into new-age sectors such as space, robotics, fintech and biosciences shows its appetite to be a hotbed for innovation. This appetite is reflected in the country’s tech infrastructure and revised residency norms that make it a magnet for highly skilled professionals who can help advance several challenges faced by the UAE and the larger MENA region.

Women safety is another area where the UAE ranks high globally, and the ecosystem here is best positioned to address gender inequality and empower the region’s female entrepreneurs.

Upping attractiveness

While all this is incredible, the UAE competes with some of the world’s most developed nations, which are equally invested in their pursuit of the next generation of talent. The global demand for niche skills is increasing, and unlike in the past, the new generation of tech-centric workers are spoilt for choice.

The UAE has set a good example so far, dealing with great care, patience and sensitivity in establishing a progressive society that is a natural extension of its history and tradition. The clarity with which this change has been executed - and the respect shown to different stakeholders of the existing ecosystem - define the path that the UAE has set for itself among its peers.

This is quite visible in how the country has positioned its offerings. If the allure of the country prior to the pandemic was its economic wealth, today it is of a more socially and culturally aware society. New infrastructure is sprouting up, but in sync with rising demand and aligned with sustainable business practices. There is an equal focus on building the resilience of the nation’s citizens while making expats feel as secure as possible in an uncertain global environment. The transition is thus seamless, organic and unforced.

A talent magnet

If 12-lane motorways and glitzy New York style high-rises represented the UAE of yesterday, today it is future-focused education, entrepreneurship support systems and progressive social structures that rub shoulders with a growing number of dedicated cycle tracks, green urban spaces, outdoor entertainment and vibrant cultural avenues.

The recent listing of Abu Dhabi and Dubai as the two best cities to live in the GCC and among the Top 100 globally further frames the UAE’s newfound sense of purpose in a better light. The two emirates have been leading the country’s ambition towards becoming competitively attractive for the next generation of talent to live, work and retire.

In short, investments of the tangible and intangible kind are being prioritized like never before to attract and retain human capital who can positively contribute to the growth of the region. The new decade though, will demand such forward-thinking acts to be consistent and rapid. Thankfully, the UAE is right up the ladder when it comes to embracing the future.

Investing in human capital is no longer just business as usual, as countries world over are starting to realize. It’s about impacting lives for the better. Empathizing with this thought has made all the difference in UAE’s growing international standing as a community open to all.

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