Happiness 2018: The UAE's Happiest People Are..?

If you just tell WSA where you live, who with, whether your children live with you, your age, and how much you earn, we would be able to predict, pretty accurately, whether you will tell us you are Very happy, or Very unhappy...
Happiness 2018: The UAE's Happiest People Are..?
By David Westley
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Looking through our data we can pick out traits and facets which would help us make a very educated guess as to how you would describe your happiness level. Your gender, your age, your nationality, your bank balance, where you live, and who with are all signposts towards your disposition and outlook.

No one in the UAE is happier, for example, than an Emirati - statistically. This is great news given this is the UAE! Some 47.6% of Emiratis responding to our survey describe themselves not just as happy, but 'Very' happy.

This is almost double the percentage as the next highest nationality grouping, the UAE's bipolar Canadians, 26.8% of whom are Very happy, but 7.6% are Very unhappy. Emirati respondents, along with the French, are the only two nationalities where no one told us they were Very unhappy.

In terms of respondents who claim to be either Very happy or happy British and Filipino respondents come in second and third respectively, after Emiratis. 81.1% of Filipinos say they are happy or very happy, while 82.6% of Britons claim to be so. This is in line with our 2014 survey where Britons and Filipinos also came top of the Happy or Very Happy polling.

In 2014 we noticed a very strong correlation with how much you earn and how happy you are. This still holds, although perhaps not quite as neatly as before, a reflection we believe of increasing job insecurity and rising costs. 73.1% of respondents who earn between 7,001 AED and 12,000 AED describe themselves as either happy or very happy, a figure that jumps sharply to 86.8% of respondents who earn over 150,000 AED a month. Statistically it is indisputable: Money can buy, at the very least, the conditions for happiness.

With age too we become happier. We think it is hugely encouraging that there is a very strong correlation between happiness and the number of years we have put under our belts.

No respondent to our survey told us they very happy under the age of 18, while no one claimed to be unhappy after the age of 65. In between we had rising levels of happiness with 9.7% of 18-24 year olds claiming to be very happy, quadrupling to 36.9% of 55-64 year old respondents. Two thirds of our 65 year olds and above claim to be very happy.

If the UAE wants to be a happier nation, simple - bring in older workers!

And make home ownership easier...

87.76% of respondents that live in their own home are happy or very happy compared to 79.38% of those who rent.

Respondents recognise this as a contributing factor to their mental wellbeing as well.

In the survey we ask "Does owning your own home make you Happier?" 78% of respondents say it does so, although this figure has fallen considerably from the 89% in 2014, likely the result of lowering property values - and rents.

As well as owning your own home, where it is makes a difference as well. While data comes from across the UAE, only in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah did we receive enough respondent to make a comparison fair. From these three emirates however, we can say that respondents from Abu Dhabi claim to be the happiest with 83.6% saying they are Happy or Very Happy, followed by Dubai residents (79%), with Sharjah in third (75.3% of respondents).

We can actually break this down even further.

While we do not have enough responses for all communities, we can see from those that gave us the most responses that Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Sports City seem to be doing something right - as is the much older, and larger community of Bur Dubai.

In Abu Dhabi, one of the oldest areas of the emirate with one of it newest names Al Zahiyah, formerly The Tourist Club Area, seems a particulaly happy place to live.

Those of you who live in a newer masterplanned development will appreciate that the quality of its management is also important.

Palm Jumeirah does well, but Nakheel does not, relatively, compared to its peers. Meeras, part of Dubai Holdings, seems to be the stand out winner here - although we should note the number of respondents living in one of its developments is still small.

In 2014 we noted a strong correlation between those who had their families with them and happiness. We still see this, but it is now a marginal affair. 80.89% of respondents with families say they are happy, as compared to 79.66% without children.

In 2014, 84.26% of respondents with children in their house said they were happy - 24% very happy, and 60.26% just happy. Rising costs, particularly schooling, along with rising concerns over money, and job security, have no doubt taken a toll.

Finally, men and women: Rather than being from different planets our Happiness quotients are remarkably aligned, although women are just a little more centered and positive than their male counterparts. Women are less likely to be Very happy, but also less likely to be Very unhappy or even unhappy.

Putting it all together, what do you have? Well, UAE residents most likely to consider themselves happy are Emirati, women, older, home owners, with a family, and well off. This does not mean a female, Emirati pensioner living with a large family, in her own home in Jumeirah next to her own bank, will be super happy, but statistically she is very likely to be so.

We should also add that there is an interconnectedness with these results. Abu Dhabi is a happier place, but that is partly because it has a higher percentage of higher earners, and locals. Brits tend to be happy, but they also live in some of the happiest places in the UAE, and tend to be relatively well paid...

There are always outliers, or exceptions to the rules. Filipinos, for example, are not the best paid nationality, but light up the UAE with happiness regardless.

Ultimately however, you cannot pin point one reason as to what makes someone happy, everything is connected. What we do know however is that there are some obvious levers to pull if the UAE wants to focus in on happiness, even as intangibles - like the simple sunshine - become ever more important to how we feel in, and about, the UAE...


Happiness 2018 - Four years on, are we still as happy?
Happiness 2018, The Infographic - Key Stats
Happiness 2018: How and Why We Did This Survey
Happiness 2018: What You Choose the UAE
Happiness 2018: Who are the Happiest People in the UAE
Happiness 2018: Property Matters
Happiness 2018: Expo 2020 and Happiness
Happiness 2018: Growing up in the UAE
Happiness 2018: The Changing Face of Expats
Happiness 2018: In Search of the Dolce Vita
Happiness 2018: How the UAE is Switzerland

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