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UAE: always a reason to smile?

All smiles here in the UAE?

How happy were you the last time you read 'industry reports'' predicting salary increases, despite your company still observing a pay freeze?

February 20, 2013 2:20 by

We’re not saying the year-round sunshine, the relatively safe environment and the many fancy prancing fountains do not give us good reason to smile, but are we really always happy?

When Kipp scrolled through the recent findings of a study by Watani telling us that UAE residents were some of the happiest on the planet, it made for difficult reading. What Kipp found interesting were the criteria used, along with the assumptions made, based on participants’ answers and rankings. Some of the values they were given as options included Respect, Ethics, Achievement, Ambition, Cooperation and Commitment. And since those values were prioritised and highlighted, the two assumptions deduced were that residents are really happy, and that the UAE is not seen as materialistic. Really?

The idea that because certain social and family values were picked has any effect on how materialistic we consider life here to be is silly. The respondents weren’t given a choice to vent were they? Nor were they given practical options to choose from. If the results indicated that residents in this country have a lot of moral fibre then that would have been fair.

Before you charge at me with torches and pitchforks, consider how happy you were the last time you read ‘industry reports” predicting salary increases, despite your company still observing a pay freeze? Or when you’ve been sat in traffic on Emirates Road – sorry, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road – Sharjah-bound, for hours and hours on an evening? Or when you found out that the Metro was out of service – again? And that’s before I mention high day-to-day expenses, costly school fees, dangerous roads, extreme summer heat, Salik . . . I could go on.

This is not to say that the UAE is not home to the happiest people in the world, or that I am not one of them. After all, it is a tax-free, relatively low-in-crime, sunny place, with endless entertainment, tourism destinations and malls bigger than you could ask for. It’s just that you won’t see me smiling, all of the time.

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