Dubai police install giant smiley face on station roof in bid to promote "happy vibes"

Officers in the Middle Eastern megacity unveiled the emoji-like symbol on the glass dome at the top of Al Muraqqabat Police Station on July 19, 2017.
Officers in the Middle Eastern megacity unveiled the emoji-like symbol on the glass dome at the top of Al Muraqqabat Police Station on July 19, 2017. PHOTO: DUBAI POLICE FACEBOOK

DUBAI (WASHINGTON POST) - Dubai's police force has announced a new addition to its ranks: an enormous smiley face.

Officers in the Middle Eastern megacity unveiled the emoji-like symbol on the glass dome at the top of Al Muraqqabat Police Station on Wednesday (July 19).

The face will be visible from inside and outside, a statement released by Dubai police said.

"As per the directives of Dubai police commander-in-chief, Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, to create more positive and happy vibes, we came up with the idea of drawing a gigantic smile face on the top of Al Muraqqabat police station," the director of the station, Brigadier Ali Ghanim, said in a statement.

The yellow face will soon be installed at other police stations and government buildings, according to the Abu Dhabi-owned newspaper the National.

"The smiley face can be seen by passengers in helicopters and planes, which will promote the power of positivity and happiness among them. Dubai is a city (that) welcomes everyone. It is the city of happiness, hope and forgiveness," Brig Ghanim said.

Dubai is the largest city in the United Arab Emirates and a symbol of oil industry boom times.

Over recent years, it has implemented a new policy that makes "happiness" the center of many of its policies, with the aim of becoming the happiest city in the world by 2021.

Last year, the government announced it was creating a position called the "minister of state for happiness" and opened a "Happiness Center," designed to help residents improve their satisfaction by offering easy access to birth certificates, medical reports and other information.

There are also plans to build what is described as the world's first "happiness city" in the suburbs.

Dubai isn't the first to argue that happiness should be an aim for governments.

Each year, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a United Nations-sponsored body, puts out a report that ranks countries around the world by their levels of happiness in a bid to show there is more to successful governing than economic growth.

In the most recent ranking, the UAE came 21st out of 155 countries ranked.

Human rights groups, however, have long criticised abuses in the UAE. Amnesty International's latest report on the country states that authorities in the country continue to "arbitrarily restrict the rights to freedom of expression and association, detaining and prosecuting government critics, opponents and foreign nationals under criminal defamation and anti-terrorism laws."

And despite the Dubai police's promotion of happiness, some groups have criticised law enforcement in the city.

Detained in Dubai, a charity based in Britain has warned tourists and expats in the city not to go to the police with reports of rape as they may be arrested under the charge of "extramarital sex."