04/24/2008, 00.00
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The ‘happiest’ people in the Middle East live in Oman

A recent region-wide survey shows that the sultanate sports the highest proportion of people who are happy about their life. Marriage, friendship and career are the key factors in the quest for happiness.

Muscat (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Omanis are a happy bunch. Indeed a survey by Maktoob Research, one of the more important online market research companies of the region, revealed that people residing in Oman are the happiest in the Middle East. The 'Happiness Survey' was conducted last month among 7,434 residents of diverse nationalities.

According to the survey, Oman has the highest percentage of happy people, with 61 per cent, followed by Saudi Arabia (57 per cent), Qatar (56 per cent), Bahrain (54 per cent), Kuwait (53 per cent), UAE (52 per cent), Jordan (47per cent), Egypt (46 per cent), Syria (46 per cent), Morocco (44 per cent) and Lebanon (35 per cent).

A number of studies have shown that happiness can indeed improve the quality of life. People who are happy are more likely to enjoy better emotional and physical health, have stronger immune systems, live longer, possess higher energy levels, and use their intelligence more efficiently.

Benefits in the workplace include higher creativity, increased productivity and better salaries whilst social benefits include larger circles of friends, better marital relationships, stronger social support and richer social interaction.

Still among the key findings of the survey are that happiness varies according to a person’s optimistic nature, being part of a close-knit loving family, marital stability, wonderful friends, strong religious faith, high levels of job satisfaction, financial and career stability, sizable income, good health, a successful career and achievement of personal goals.

Reasons for unhappiness include very high costs of living, problems at work, insufficient salary, unemployment, bad health, obesity, and dissatisfaction with personal appearance, unhappy marital and family life, lack of close friends, large debts, unsatisfactory academic results, recent loss of loved ones, general instability and uncertainty regarding the future.

The results surprisingly reveal that overall happiness levels are the same in men and women across the region at 49 per cent, whilst 19 per cent of men and 17 per cent of women saw themselves as unhappy.

With the age factor taken into account older respondents (aged 46 and above) clearly emerged as the happiest bunch with an overall happiness quotient of 59 per cent compared to 47.5 per cent of respondents in middle years (18-35).

As for cities in individual countries the happiest place of them all is Buraimi at 88 per cent in Oman, followed by Madinah at 83 per cent in Saudi Arabia, Manama at 67 per cent in Bahrain, Doha at 58 per cent in Qatar, Al Ain, Fujairah e Umm al Quwain in the UAE, Kuwait City in Kuwait, Tangier in Morocco and Suez in Egypt tied at 56 per cent, Zarqa at 51 per cent in Jordan, Tyre at 50 per cent in Lebanon, and Damascus at 48 per cent in Syria.

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