Are We A Happy People? ...Still A Lot Remains To Be Done
01 May 2016
By Khaled Almaeena
Sitting after the Friday congregation, sipping mint tea, a neighbor posed a
question: ''Are we a happy people?''
Before I could reflect on the full effect of the question, a friend replied
that ''happiness is a state of mind''. He continued by stating that you cannot
generalize about nations being happy or not, adding that there is an index of
happiness that can gauge our level of well-being.
My reply to all this was to ask what really constitutes happiness. It's a
combination of well-being of mind and body, comfortable living and a
stress-free environment, that is true across the board, but what do you do
when you wake up in the morning and are challenged at home and in the office.
It has become a national pastime to moan and complain, chipped in a doctor:
''We wake up in the morning and our conversation centers around drivers and
household help, visas, lack of services, traffic disruption and changing rules
Getting things done in offices that deal with the public is a nightmare and
this despite the fact that appreciable progress has been made in e-government
and especially by the Ministry of Interior. This has reduced the timeframe and
even reduced traffic congestion as most work issues are solved by the click of
But still a lot remains to be done and it will take a long time before the
people of Jeddah get the smart city that they want and deserve.
Measuring the distinct elements of a smart city is by itself an interesting
exercise. And it is important that city planners take into consideration
elements other than the three basic requirements of food, shelter and
security. They should add the environmental factor as well. And here it is not
just the physical environment – we have had enough of the ''concrete
What is needed are cultural and artistic outlets that act as a sponge to
absorb our energies and thus reduce stress.
We need cinemas, theaters, bandstands, libraries, town halls, properly laid
out parks and public squares. We need to breathe!
A small minority have taken it upon themselves to prevent all this from
happening. We should not allow the tyranny of the minority to dampen our
We need a city that comprises technology and mental well-being. We need a city
whose character embodies all the aspects of well-being, where living is easy
and where comfort is obtained by just a walk in the street. Only then can we
truly say that we are happy.
– The writer is Editor-at-Large. He can be reached at email@example.com
and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena