|Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai Photo: Getty|
The announcement on Monday [Feb 8] night followed weeks of speculation over the nature of the well-signalled government shake-up. The prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who is also the ruler of Dubai, had said he wanted a “council of youth” with its own minister who would him – or her – self be no older than 25.
That position was confirmed, with an as yet unnamed woman of 22 said to be appointed to the job. Sheikh Mohammed – on Twitter, his preferred medium of communication with his people, when he is not writing books and poetry – also announcing a series of ministry mergers and a decision to “outsource” large areas of government to semi-autonomous quangos and the private sector.
He also said there would be two new positions altogether. “A new post, minister of state for happiness, will align and drive government policy to create social good and satisfaction,” he said. “The post of minister of state for tolerance has been created to promote tolerance as a fundamental value in UAE society.”
He gave few details of what the daily duties of either minister would be, except, in the first case, to promote a virtuous and family-focused society.
However, the ministry of tolerance at least is symbolically important – the vast majority of UAE residents are expatriates, many of them Christian, Shia Muslim and from other religions besides the Sunni Islam that is the state's official creed.
Tolerance is not likely to be extended to political opposition – scores of activists and Islamists have been jailed in the UAE since the start of the Arab Spring to prevent "contagion" spreading to the Gulf state.
A new post, Minister of State for Happiness, will align and drive government policy to create social good and satisfaction.#WorldGovSummit— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) February 8, 2016
The post of Minister of State for Tolerance has been created to promote tolerance as a fundamental value in UAE society#WorldGovSummit— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) February 8, 2016
The newly created UAE Youth National Council will include an elite group of young men and women to advise on youth affairs#WorldGovSummit— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) February 8, 2016
The Council will be led by a 22 year-old female Minister of State. The energy of youth will fuel our government in future#WorldGovSummit— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) February 8, 2016
Here is the 12th UAE Cabinet. This is the team which will achieve our nation’s aspirations pic.twitter.com/aHgBWBa556— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) February 10, 2016