It’s a Weird World
Unhappy? Expect call from Dubai police
DUBAI — If you say you’re unhappy in Dubai, the police may call to ask you why as part of a new survey.
The online poll, unveiled in recent days, comes as Dubai tries to break into the top 10 rankings of world’s happiest cities by 2021, an effort in league with other lofty aspirations in this emirate, home to the world’s tallest building.
The simple survey has users choose between a frown, a smile and an unimpressed straight line. The police say they will call those who say they are unhappy, which puzzles some observers, including William Davies, a senior lecturer at the University of London who recently published the book “The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Well-being.”
“This looks like to me an attempt to try to slightly frighten people into A) replying to the survey question and B) replying to say they’re happy because people really don’t want to be rung up by the police with the question: ‘Well, what’s your problem?’” Davies said. “But I don’t know. Maybe there’s something sincere about it.”
The effort to measure happiness can be seen in government offices across Dubai, one of seven of the United Arab Emirates. Small tablet computers placed next to civil servants allow citizens to provide instant feedback on their experience. Last year, authorities also began ranking municipal offices with a two-to-seven star system based on their customer service, part of Dubai’s “smart government” push.
That happiness effort has included the Dubai police, most well-known abroad for some of the luxury cars employed in its fleet. Twitter messages from the police often include the hashtag “Your Security Our Happiness” in both Arabic and English. — AP
US man creates ‘sovereign nation’
SALT LAKE CITY — A New York man is building his own sovereign nation called Zaqistan on a remote piece of land in Utah.
Zaq Landsberg has created a yellow-and-red flag, official-looking passports and a border patrol gate guarded by a giant robot sentry for the realm.
“The conceptual goal is I want it to become a real country,” said Landsberg, its president. “I mean, that goal is not going to happen. It’s impossible, but going through the motions, (I’m) trying to make that happen.”
He’s even created a motto for the land of Zaqistan: “Something from nothing.” — AP