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Saudi Arabia’s impressive Rank in World Happiness Report 2021

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The World Happiness Report 2021, published recently by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, ranked 95 countries in its happiness index. The report evaluates government responses to the pandemic’s toll on health, the economy, and psychology, identifying links between trust in state institutions, how COVID-19 was addressed, and the happiness of societies.
Parts of the report measured the impact of the corona virus pandemic on the work environment, the quality of social relations, individuals’ mental health, confidence in government procedures, and the country’s ability to overcome the repercussions of the virus outbreak. Other sections examined unemployment rates, inequality, and the prevalence of loneliness.
For the fourth year running, Finland topped the index for happiness, followed by Iceland, Denmark, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Saudi Arabia ranked first among Arab countries and 21 globally. The UAE ranked 27, followed by Bahrain (35), Morocco (80), Iraq (81), Tunisia (82), and Egypt (87).
Among Arab countries, the data on life satisfaction has shown improvement, especially in Saudi Arabia whose scores have risen steadily since 2017. “Life satisfaction is very highly correlated with GDP — providing housing, education, healthcare, access to employment, roads, electricity, and people’s basic needs,” said Dr. Louise Lambert, editor of the Middle East Journal of Positive Psychology, and capacity building and training development lead with the Emirates Center for Happiness Research.
“Life satisfaction is easy to attain provided you have good governance and wealth, so it’s not surprising that Saudi Arabia ranks high because it has more means to be able to take care of people. It’s also certainly the case in the UAE. There are more social welfare programs, for instance.”
But wealth aside, Lambert highlighted some of the “tremendous changes” taking place in Saudi Arabia, which have undoubtedly generated a sense of optimism among the population. She noted that was especially the case for women, who were now able to drive, enter the workforce, and make their own income and choices, thanks to changes to guardianship laws.