The well-being of citizens is certainly the top-most priority of any government and the UAE is not an exception to it.
According to the BCG's 2018 Sustainable Economic Development Assessment index, the UAE has improved its position among the list of countries, which strike a right balance between growth and the well-being of its citizens. And certainly, this is one of the key factors that attracts foreigners, who make up around 85 per cent of the UAE population, as they enjoy a better quality of life.
The UAE moved up one place to 28th position as residents enjoy better well-being than those in Italy, Malaysia, Turkey, Russia and over 100 other nations around the world.
The index data showed that the UAE's high ranking was due to the government policy to ensure higher income, infrastructure, economic stability and employment to its residents.
Anita Yadav, head of fixed income research at Emirates NBD Research, said the UAE government puts considerable effort in developing and maintaining world-class infrastructure. "Also, legal systems and enforcement of laws is very efficient which gives a general sense of security to the common man."
In addition, she pointed out that the UAE government's recent measures such as freezing of school fees, easing of residency visas and lowering of certain government fees, were undertaken to enhance the well-being of residents.
YS Shashidhar, partner and managing director, Frost & Sullivan, said there are several firsts that UAE has undertaken namely world's first happiness minister, specific tools and techniques to measure the happiness index of the residents, transforming customer services centres into customer happiness centres, etc.
Report: Private Wealth in UAE to Reach Dh2.16 Trillion by 2022
UAE Hospitality Industry to Reach $7.6 Billion by 2022
"In fact, a lot of measures undertaken have instilled the value of happiness and positivity among the residents and that is what makes the UAE unique."
He stressed that the most important measures wherein the UAE stands out among others in the region is clearly with respect to the state-of-the-art infrastructure, government services, safety and security. "All of these add up to a higher quality of life for its residents."
Citing few examples about the well-being for its residents, he noted that average response time for an ambulance for healthcare emergency is down to four minutes while it is an average of six-seven minutes for fire incidents.
"In fact, continuous measures are being undertaken to reduce these timelines further - e.g, like a 30 seconds response time call in case of fire related incidents, etc," Shashidhar said.
He said lots of efforts and measures are already being undertaken to enhance the quality of life of the residents by using advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, etc., as well.
According to Boston Consulting Group report, European countries dominated the list of countries with most sustainable economic development assessment rankings with Norway maintaining its lead followed by Switzerland, Iceland, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Singapore, Finland, Austria and Netherlands making up to top 10 list.
While African countries namely Central African Republic, Chad, Yemen, Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Nigeria, Mozambique, Pakistan, Guinea and Burundi were ranked at the bottom of the well-being index.
In the Middle East, the UAE is followed by Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman.
Joao Hrotko, partner and managing director, Boston Consulting Group, said over the past 10 years, well-being has been on the rise in the overwhelming majority of the countries around the world.
Hrotko believes that the well-being of a country's citizens doesn't have to come at the expense of "hard core" economic growth.
"We found that countries that were better at converting wealth into well-being tended to have faster economic growth. They also tended to be more resilient - recovering more quickly from the 2008-2009 financial crisis," he added.
"For countries that already enjoy a relatively high level of well-being, investments in education and employment can do the most to improve both well-being and economic growth. For countries with a relatively low level of well-being, it is not enough to focus only on areas that are key pillars of development, such as health and education. They must also improve governance, a critical foundation for sustainable economic growth, and infrastructure," Hrotko said.
By Waheed Abbas