Why We Are Happy

When John Burgess published a recent post on Crossroads Arabia titled “Happy Saudis!” I was like “Huh!” The post links to a chart from a study conducted by the World Values Survey based at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research which states that Saudi Arabia is the 26th happiest country in the world. “It’s widely believed that it’s almost impossible to raise an entire country’s happiness level,” says Ronald Inglehart, political scientist at U-M and the director of the World Values Surveys.

The “surprising finding” has prompted me to think what possibly could be the reasons behind the overwhelmingly positive attitude of my countrymen…

See? The list is endless!

How about you fellow citizens? Why are you so goddamn happy?

34 thoughts on “Why We Are Happy

  1. Doesn’t say that Saudis are happy but that they’re happier than before, since is based on a series of surveys covering more than 20 years

    • I think one of the problems with this survey is that it’s impossible to separate from the question: in which countries do people feel the most compelled to SAY that they’re happy?

      I’m sure if the North Korean regime ran a survey, it would report back that its citizens are the happiest people in the world. That doesn’t prove that it’s true.

      I’ll draw a less extreme example: here in the United States, there is this prevailing idea that everyone is supposed to be “living the American dream,” and admitting that you’re not happy (even to yourself) is an admission of failure.

      By contrast, in my native Poland, there’s a prevailing belief that life sucks (which is not unusual in a country that has spent its entire history being brutally subjugated by its neighbors, and is still in the process of recovering from 45 years of Communist subjugation).

      But I’m not at all convinced — based on personal, anecdotal experience — that my American friends are really any happier than my Polish friends and relatives. Quite the contrary. The single biggest difference is that Americans are more stressed out, and more overworked. After all, they work the longest hours in the developed world, and many of my friends here don’t even have medical insurance.

      Nonetheless, I’m not surprised that in the survey, Americans don’t want to admit to being unhappy, while Polish people don’t want to admit to being happy. It’s ingrained in the national culture. This also might help explain why Saudis are all so “happy.” Can you be unhappy living in Saudi Arabia, the perfect Muslim society, and still be a good Muslim?

  2. Um well, this is the first time for me to hear such a thing. Maybe they say that for the percent of people who kill them selves here is lesser than it is in other part of the world :I

  3. I am not sure how this survey is conducted. The fact that Saudi Arabia comes ahead of countries like UAE where people wealthier and have more freedoms is surprising and makes me question if the cultural background is considered when questions are developed. Saudi’s very rarely say things are bad even at hard times, because we are programmed to say Al-Hamdullah for all the great things we have. So if you just ask questions that are superficial, you get superficial results.

    I highly doubt that Saudi’s are amongst the happiest group on earth.

  4. perhaps it is because Saudis tend to put on a face to the outside world, saying everything is great and wonderful about their country. Same thing happens in their personal lives, outside the home they are all pious good decent people, and inide their home can be total chaos.

    I remember a western female speaker that came to talk to a group of women and the Saudi women stood and said how not driving isn’t soemthing that affects them, they are all wonderful and happy about it. Total farse of course, but the knee jerk reaction to defend is inheret in us all I think.

  5. i believe its because the level of immigration is very low ! i dont believe the main-stream saudi would like living outside his beloved country!

  6. Ahmed,

    I had to laugh at “How about you fellow citizens? Why are you so goddamn happy?”

    LOL. Maybe the Saudis who were involved in this were just practicing “kalam fadi”? Or, maybe like anything else in Saudi, the pool was packed with members of the Saudi royal family or those who rely on them for their living?

    I always love that. They talk about reform and point to all of these committees and organisations set up to push reform, but they are then packed from top to bottom with members of the royal family and those who are beholding to them.

    The first act of reform should be to make sure that these committes and organisations represent a broad cross section of Saudi society, not just those at the top.

  7. Moe,

    You write “i dont believe the main-stream saudi would like living outside his beloved country!”

    I guess “Saudi in the US” might be able to answer that one. He has been living here for decades. My wife is a Saudi who has the choice to live in Saudi or the US and chose to live in the USA.

    As a matter of fact, there are hundreds of thousands of Saudis who have made an active choice to live here in the USA. Southern California and the Metro DC area is full of Saudis who left the Kingdom.

    When I lived in England there was a large Saudi community in London. That fact is hundreds of thousands of normal Saudis have made the choice to live outside of Saudi.

  8. ABU Sinan !

    well first of all i am an expatriate my self i lived outside the kingdom for the biggest part of my adult life !! i kinda know what i am talking about !

    i am sure there is a huge amount of Saudi’s all over the world however i carefully used the word (mainstream saudi) you your self and all those who live abroad are not your every day mainstream saudi we had the choice and we left the country !

    my point is ,give the chance for lebanese,syrian,jordanian,egyptian,Moroccan, algerian,etc etc etc the chance of easy visa access like the saudi’s and you would find those countries i mentioned above empty !!

  9. Moe: What would happen to the Saudi if he said, “Gee I don’t really like my country I want to leave it.” WOuld family accept it and society? How could he leave the land of Mecca and the land of the beloved Prophet?

    Most people feel like they are in a prison especially the mainstream ones!

    • lol i dont think we are just “simple minded” may be you are the simple minded because you close your self from the outside world thinking i live the best life come and visit saudi arabia may be you like it better visit it in the “aied” at al-sargya youll find aramco youll be suprised how were simple minded are can make a beautiful country trust me when i say if you talk to any saudi he will smileing when he talks to you ^.^ then come and say how ignorit are we or how smart are we ^,-

  10. A friend of mine used to work for the saudi research and marketing group, and according to a study they conducted a few years ago… channel one on the saudi TV is the most watched channel in saudi arabia.

    and they call them selves, what? “research and marketing group”… so I guess that makes the survey… well u know what I mean.

  11. I wouldn’t be surprised. I’ve lived in Saudi Arabia for a long time, but I’m not a Saudi myself. I do agree that the Saudi government does take care of its citizens. However, there are different kinds of happiness in this world. It may be true you might be happy with the way your country is running, but what about personal happiness? Now we’re talking about a different matter…

  12. Certainly does prove uncle Steiny wrong:

    “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” -Albert Einstein

  13. Maybe they are happy, a lot more happier then the Saudis on scholerships abroad.
    You got to understand that not everyone is like you. A lot of people are comfortable they way they are.
    “keep looking up at the apples on the tree and you might miss the ones at your feet”

  14. We’re happy because Americans have been our friends for a very long time, which prevented any other Arab or non-Arab country to lay hands on us. We are happy because even if we are deprived of some joys of life, and are run by a a questionable government we still get to live in peace and not in a chaotic hell of a society.

    It may be true that it is only a facade put by every Saudi as a result of masking our way through life.

    Just like how I only hugged my mother once because we had a funeral and we had to.

    But, all in all.. I can see that we had a good run, before the 90s we lived joyful and wonderful lives, now we’re morphing into yet– another Brain-washed society that was made to believe that whatever it’s doing is wrong and must follow the lead of the civilized.

    Why can’t we be happy? if the “Western Clique of the Civilized” see that we’re faulty at topics like “Human Rights”.. because you know we’re “Savages” and must be polished.

    Why not follow their lead? because they never harmed a human-being, even the rumors saying they’re still torturing and abusing Humanity must be all wrong because they didn’t say that.

    Even if they were,… so what?

    All Humanity is only a blind-folded shining beacon of justice in the heart of darkness.

  15. pardon me but i am new to this saudi jeans thing whats the blogger’s name ?? and why doesnt he post stuff more often ?

  16. I’ll qout my mom whenever I complain about something: ” You’re a denier who is yet to comprehend the blessings she was given”
    Most Saudis happiness stems from the fact that our religion teaches us to be grateful for every little thing, even problems since they help lighten the loads of sins a little.
    the other thing is our not wanting to show our dirty laundry to the world. so, we end up putting a happy face, and lie to the whole world about our fake freedom, fake women rights, and fake respect for human rights. I was actually told once by an idiot to shut up and stop talking about the negative aspects of our society saying” what would people think about us if you say such stuff all the time?”
    so yes, we want to keep our misery to ourselves. thus, I agree with Saudi in US

  17. I wonder what country is #1 :)

    I’m happy because so many who are in the states cannot think of returning to Saudi …

    I’m happy because so many go back to Saudi in hope of developing it, instead they see so many doors closed in their faces that they take what they’ve gained some where else (ahem, Dubai anyone? )

    oh I am just too happy to put into writing :) :)

  18. Saudis are happy because they are MUSLIMS
    thats IT…Nothing more..
    its not because of the good education or the healthy social life BECAUSE IT IS NOT

    • The best comment I read, why people can’t understand that just living among the sound of adhaan, the versus of the noble book of Quran and AL kaa’aba is something which you cannot find somewhere else on earth, is the secret of self comfort.

  19. If it is because Saudis are Muslim, why are other non Muslim countrys ABOVE Saudi in happiness? If Islam is the cause of the happiness wouldnt all Muslim countries be as happy?

    As a matter of fact, since Saudi is “100% Muslim” shouldnt this “happiness effect” of Islam make it the NUMBER ONE happiest country in the world?

    Give me a break, such a simplistic answer. Islam, in and of itself, doesnt make a whole population of a country happy.

    I guess you could go find out how happy the Muslim people of Dafour are.

    • @ Abu Sinan,

      Aren’t you a muslim?

      Whether or not the reason of their happiness was Islam, Islam is the best religion, and if those people of darfour realized the sin they are committing by killing their Muslim siblings, they would have lived happier and much safer. The problem is not on Islam, but how Muslims practice Islam; not every Muslim is a good muslim, but not every Muslim is bad either. So relax!

  20. i dun believe that living in Saudi Arabia got any thing to do with me bein happy, cz if it does id be damnned to be happy ..

    ur just happy because ur in a good health and ur surrounded by the ones u love .. :D

  21. It can hardly be Islam, because the 24 countries that are happier than SA are not Islamic. Follow the link to the chart.

  22. well, what can i say? we live in a place where ignorance is still a bliss… most of the population is unaware of all this, and most of the inhabitants of this desert are unaccounted for as a “population”…

  23. Dear Ahmed,
    Can you please define what is meant by happniess according to your own understanding or beleif…And, while you are defining it please consider what is meant by a happy society also according to your own defintion..then, start comparing it to other socities..I think words, such as happniess,love,need,luxury are all relative…

  24. there must be a different degree of happiness between women and men as men have all the rights and the women are the slaves.

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