Emirati initiative brings happiness expertise to Egypt

The signing of a cooperation protocol between Alif Yaa Saada, Egyptian NGO Arab Achievers and Egyptian training company Skyline

The United Arab Emirates is the happiest Arab country and the 20th happiest nation in the world, the “World Happiness Report 2018” stated.
The report, a UN annual ranking that assesses a country’s average well-being by looking at its income, life expectancy, social support, freedom and trust and generosity, ranked Egypt 122nd out of 156 countries.
Now, a UAE initiative is working to transfer the Arab Gulf country’s happiness expertise to Egypt through a partnership with an Egyptian NGO.
Alif Yaa Saada — meaning “Happiness from A to Z” — signed a cooperation protocol with Egyptian NGO Arab Achievers in March to have UAE instructors in the field of happiness help Egyptian institutions train Egyptians on how to be happy.
The initiative aims to teach Egyptians positive attitudes, tolerance and generosity. It will try to spread positive ideas about the empowerment of women, coexistence and peacemaking.
The process will include many events to acquaint Egyptians with happiness, not as a state of mind but as a way of life, said Mohamed Shtayat, UAE trainer and a coordinator of Alif Yaa Saada.
“We want to entrench the concept of happiness in the culture and attitudes of the people of Egypt,” Shtayat said. “We want to teach people that there are tools for reaching happiness.”
The Alif Yaa Saada initiative was unveiled in Abu Dhabi on March 20. It is a UAE blueprint for bringing happiness to the Arab region. The initiative will work with local institutions in almost every Arab country to train locals on how to find happiness in everyday life.
The UAE stunned the Arab world in February 2016 when it appointed a minister of state for happiness. This was unprecedented in a region torn by conflicts, sectarian strife and animosities.
The UAE’s approach to happiness breaks away from widely held concepts. It views happiness not as a state of mind but a way of life that can be taught and is necessary for nation-building, increasing production and peacemaking.
“Happiness is a culture and a result of a number of scientifically proven practices,” Shtayat said. “It is also about a number of values that certainly make it a reality if they control people’s lives.”
Arab Achievers said it is enthusiastic about cooperating with the UAE initiative because Egypt and Egyptians could use as much happiness as possible.
The agency will help implement its initiative’s programme in Egypt through seminars, workshops and training sessions to help Egyptians reach happiness.
“We will start with workers at major institutions nationwide and then think of other categories of society to make them aware of the practices that lead to happiness,” said Sameh Ali Lutfi, chairman of the board of trustees of Arab Achievers. “UAE trainers participating in the initiative will provide high-quality training, using advanced tools in making people happy.”
Implementation of the initiative is to start in July. Egyptians will be allowed to attend seminars and courses within the initiative for free. Alif Yaa Saada, Lutfi said, makes the project free to encourage individuals and institutions to participate.
Egyptian training company Skyline is to assist the UAE initiative and the Egyptian NGO. It offers consultancy and designs programmes in capacity-building and upgrading business institutions.
The company will provide logistical support and offer advice on who it should target and where for effective implementation.
Egypt stands to learn a lot from the implementation of the Alif Yaa Saada initiative, given the experience of the UAE in this field, the company said.
“The UAE also stands to benefit from implementing the initiative in Egypt by giving its trainers the chance to train Egyptians in happiness-making,” said Ghada Abdel Razeq, the head of training at Skyline. “So, this is a win-win situation. It must be said that turning happiness into a science is the UAE’s gift to the Arab world.”

Ahmed Meghid is an Egyptian reporter based in Cairo.
This article was originally published in The Arab Weekly.