UAE names women to newly created posts of state ministers

Friday 05/02/2016
Inclusive cabinet

DUBAI – 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.

Sheikh Mohammed has announced Tuesday the creation of a Minister of State for Happiness, as part of a major government shake-up.

He said the Minister would drive policy "to create social good and satisfaction".

A new post of Minister of State for Tolerance was also created.

Sheikh Mohammed said several ministries would also be merged and unveiled plans to outsource most government services.

"Governments must be flexible. We don't need more ministries, but more ministers capable of dealing with change," he said at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Monday.

"We want a young and flexible government that will fulfil our youth's aspirations and achieve our people's ambitions."

The Minister of State for Tolerance would promote the virtue "as a fundamental value in UAE society", Sheikh Mohammed tweeted.

Sheikh Mohammed also announced the creation of a UAE Youth National Council.

The "elite group of young men and women" would advise the government on youth issues and be led by a female minister of state for youth no older than 22, he said, adding: "The energy of youth will fuel our government in future."

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.

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