Portrait of a Nation: The Emirati woman whose primary job objective is to make people happy

Hessa Al Falasi is the chief happiness and positivity officer at Fujairah Government and she aims to make a difference in people’s lives every day.

Hessa Al Falasi says her mother and grandmother are hugely inspirational figures in her life and work. Antonie Robertson / The National
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Fujairah Government’s happiness and positivity officer lives and loves her job, she takes her upbeat ethos into each day and hopes that example will help inspire her colleagues.

FUJAIRAH // It’s not that common to find a job where the primary goal is simply to make people happy but that is exactly the position Hessa Al Falasi finds herself in.

Partly through the pleasure she gets from volunteering and also her affable demeanour, the 36-year-old Emirati proved to be the ideal candidate to take up the position of chief happiness and positivity officer at Fujairah Government at the start of the year.

The former English teacher says she has her mind set on one goal - “making a difference in people’s lives”.

“It fills me with joy when someone tells me how much of a difference I made in their lives,” says Ms Al Falasi. “I try to make a difference in people’s lives every day and encourage them to do the same.”

The main thrust of her job is to initiate and oversee happiness and positivity programmes and activities in Fujairah Government in coordination with the Office of the Minister of State for Happiness and she got to the position from joining the Happiness Officer Programme in August last year.

“My volunteer work in translation and organising events was one of the main reasons to be nominated to join the programme,” she says.

“We started the intensive course in September and it was a life-changing experience for me. The people I met there changed me before I could use the information to change the work environment around me.

“We learnt about the science of happiness, mindfulness, making public policies for a happier community, measuring happiness and how to make work a happy environment that supports innovation and nurtures talents and differences.

”I really believe that I have to be a role model of happiness and positivity. Change is not easy and people will not all embrace positivity and we have to respect that. However, if you model happiness and positivity, it will start spreading and people will start doing the same.”

Ms Al Falasi started in January by targeting employees at the Emiri Court, where she worked as a translator. She encouraged them to define goals for themselves and finding meaning and purpose in the work they do.

“We also focused on health and fitness, on fun activities and celebrating employee’s special occasions and small achievements like birthdays, weddings and, with time, other departments in the government started asking us about our activities and copying them,” she says.

Ms Al Falasi has a Master’s degree in teaching English and a Bachelor’s degree in the English language and translation. Her first job was as an English teacher for children in Grades 7 and 8.

“Working as an English teacher at the beginning of my career journey in 2004 helped me develop many skills, such as self-control, caring for others, transferring and sharing knowledge, and that played a huge role in shaping me into the person that I am today,” she says.

“It was important to me to follow my passion and I always wanted to practice translation and develop my translation skills so after four years of teaching I decided it was time to try something else.”

In 2011, she became a translator at the Emiri Court, where she developed her skills and currently holds the position of director of technical support, alongside the chief happiness position.

“I found meaning and purpose in what I do and that was always what drove me to give more,” Ms Al Falasi says.

Her mother and grandmother were the biggest influences in her life and her way of thinking.

“My mum has a very positive way of looking at the world; she really believes that things will turn out OK in the end, and she really believes in the goodness of people and so much of that way of thinking has been passed on to me,” she says.

“My grandmother also taught me to always smile, no matter what. She always says: ‘No matter what you’re going through, keep a positive front; people don’t need to see your sadness, share only your smile and, with time, you yourself will also feel better’.”


Name: Hessa Al Falasi

Meaning of name: Hessa is a rare pearl, found only in the depths of the Arabian Gulf

Born: 1980

Marital status: Single

Favourite book: Emma by Jane Austen

Favourite food: Grilled fish