The United Arab Emirates is about to see the biggest – and most colorful – shakeup in government since its founding 45 years ago, after Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, ruler of Dubai and vice president of the UAE, announced a slew of changes to the country's cabinet and ministries.
Soon Emiratis will have a government minister whose sole job is happiness, along with another who is focused on tolerance.
While these "feel-good" positions might be creating the most buzz, the changes are far reaching. The overall number of ministries is being reduced – with a sole Education Ministry instead of splitting higher education into its own organization. The Ministry of International Cooperation and Development is also being folded into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
While the number of overall ministries is reduced, the government is increasing the actual number of ministers. The government will appoint a number of ministers of state – who have a portfolio but not a separate ministry. Both the happiness minister and the tolerance minister will be ministers of state. Sheikh Mohammed said that this was designed to allow the government more flexible in a changing world.
The UAE will also now have a Ministry of Climate Change and Environment – a smart move considering the threat that rising sea levels pose to the Emirates.
The changes were announced at the World Government Summit in Dubai, which also saw United States President Barack Obama give a key note address via video link .
Just last week, Sheikh Mohammed put out a call for nominations for an Emirati under the age of 25 to join the Cabinet. During Monday's announcement, he said that a 22-year-old female minister of state would lead a new Youth National Council.