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Spread the happiness around
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 25 - 01 - 2017

In today's uncertain times, it is refreshing to hear that there are a lot of happy people around. Their individual happiness may stem from personal or social reasons, but hey, they are happy. Who can argue with that? Those feelings were captured in a survey last month conducted by a regional headhunting powerhouse.
According to a study undertaken by the job-hunting site Bayt titled "Top Cities in the Middle East and North Africa", Dhahran/Al-Khobar in the Eastern Province, Riyadh and Jeddah ranked among the top 10 cities to live in. The comprehensive details of the study were published in this paper shortly after being released. But a recap on some of the findings reveals that in all three cities, the majority of citizens were happy about their current city of residence. For example, 60 percent of Eastern Province residents claim to be happy, with a third admitting to being "very happy."
In Jeddah and Riyadh, 24 percent of respondents from both cities claimed to be "very happy". For Eastern Province respondents, their happiness was spurred by their proximity to the island nation of Bahrain and its attractions.
The study was based on several factors including economic, environmental, standard of living, socio-cultural and entrepreneurship factors. In the MENA region, the following was the ranking in order of preference and satisfaction for the top 10 cities: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Eastern Province, Doha, Riyadh, Marrakech, Rabat, Jeddah and Kuwait City.
Addressing economic concerns, three quarters (75 percent) of the respondents said that jobs were the most important factor. Affordable housing (72 percent), followed by reasonably priced day-to-day necessities (70 percent) and career growth (70 percent) were also of high importance to respondents. Around a third of the respondents from Jeddah (32 percent) and the Eastern Province (37 percent) claimed that competitive salaries in their cities were "good" or "excellent," and 28 percent of residents in Riyadh echoed these sentiments. In the Eastern Province, employees of family run businesses felt that benefits for working parents (56 percent), career growth (50 percent) and availability of affordable housing (40 percent) were "good" or "excellent".
Issues adding to the happiness of workers included health insurance and social security systems as the most important benefits. Wage protection, end-of-service benefits and termination rights followed. The Eastern Province once again scored highest of the three cities of the Kingdom in terms of labor rights.
The respondents' priorities for their city's ranking included personal safety, education and healthcare. The report disclosed that the "feeling of stability and security (84 percent), quality of education (81 percent), availability of healthcare facilities (81 percent) and quality of available healthcare facilities (80 percent) emerge as the most important standard of living factors. In fact, standard of living ranked high for all Saudi cities. The availability of healthcare facilities was "good" or "excellent" for 61 percent of Jeddah and Riyadh residents, and 66 percent of residents from the Eastern Province. In terms of quality of healthcare, 53 percent of Jeddah, 66 percent of Riyadh and 70 percent of Eastern Province residents said that it was "good" or "excellent". Similarly, education was ranked "good" or "excellent" by 43 percent of respondents in Jeddah, 62 percent in Riyadh and 84 percent in the Eastern Province.'
The Kingdom's residents felt that forces within cultures, societies and cities affect the thoughts, feelings and behavior of individuals who are part of them. The most important socio-cultural factors were low crime rate (81 percent) and effective law enforcement (77 percent). The Kingdom's residents felt that their cities had a "good" or "excellent" stable political environment (56 percent Jeddah, 58 percent Riyadh and 70 percent Eastern Province), low crime rates (61 percent Riyadh, 66 percent Eastern Province, and 70 percent Jeddah), and effective law enforcement (46 percent Jeddah, 49 percent Riyadh and 70 percent Eastern Province).
Regarding environmental issues, clean water (83 percent), clean air (74 percent) and clean streets (69 percent) ranked as the most important survey factors. Respondents from the Kingdom claimed that clean water (46 percent Jeddah, 60 percent Riyadh and 70 percent Eastern Province) and the beauty of architecture and buildings (51 percent Jeddah, 57 percent Riyadh and 50 percent Eastern Province) were "good" or "excellent".
Now, in the age of austerity and belt-tightening, isn't it good to know that the majority of residents in the region are not feeling as bad as one might have thought? There is plenty to be thankful for. It is this good cheer that should be the first thing on our mind as we go about our daily chores. Positive thinking leads to positive results.
— The author can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena

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