DUBAI, Feb 10, (AFP): The United Arab Emirates on Wednesday named women to the newly created posts of state ministers for happiness and tolerance, and a 22-year-old female for youth affairs. Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum named eight women as he revealed his latest cabinet line-up of 29 ministers in a series of tweets. Ohoud al-Roumi, who had served as director of the council of ministers’ office, was appointed “minister of state for happiness”.
“Happiness is not just a wish in our country. There will be plans, projects, programmes and indices. It will be part of the job of all ministries,” tweeted Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the ruler of Dubai.
Shamma al-Mazroui, 22, was appoined state minister for youth, while Lubna al- Qassimi, a veteran minister of international cooperation and development, was handed the new post of state minister for tolerance.
The cabinet has eight new ministers, including five new women, with an average age of 38, WAM state news agency said. An oil-rich federation of seven Gulf sheikhdoms, the United Arab Emirates is considered a safe haven spared in the wave of Arab Spring uprisings that hit the region. Last year its rulers sought to widen the country’s nascent democratic credentials with about a quarter of its one million citizens given the right to vote.
Eighty-seven of the 330 candidates were women, who play a much larger role in public life in the UAE than in neighbouring Saudi Arabia. But the authorities have been deeply cautious and in 2014 introduced sweeping new counterterrorism legislation that rights groups have criticised as paving the way for a crackdown on dissent of all sorts. Citizens make up a small minority of the UAE’s population of nine million which is overwhelmingly made up of foreign workers.