Title: Happiness in the United Arab Emirates: conceptualisations of happiness among Emirati and other Arab students

Authors: Louise Lambert D'raven; Nausheen Pasha-Zaidi

Addresses: Canadian University of Dubai, P.O. Box 117781, Dubai, United Arab Emirates ' Petroleum Institute of Abu Dhabi, P.O. Box 2533, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Abstract: How happiness is defined depends on who is asked. The prevailing views of happiness currently found in the literature tend to be Western and individualistic and shape what is viewed as normative. In this descriptive exploratory study, based in the United Arab Emirates, Emirati and other Arab expatriate students were asked to define happiness and describe how it is viewed by their cultures. Both groups defined happiness as a collective state generated through relationships with family and social groups, rather than through the self. It was also defined as an emotion and approach to life and involved religion and goal setting. Emiratis noted the presence of good governance as a contributor to happiness while other Arabs noted its absence. The findings enrich the current understanding of happiness and provide a preliminary view of what other cultures may consider to be happiness.

Keywords: culture; happiness conceptualisations; positive psychology; Emirati; Arab students; lay conceptions; United Arab Emirates; expatriate students; family; social groups; emotion; religion; goal setting; good governance.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHD.2015.067590

International Journal of Happiness and Development, 2015 Vol.2 No.1, pp.1 - 21

Received: 01 Oct 2013
Accepted: 23 Jan 2014

Published online: 22 Apr 2015 *

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