The Department of Community Development (DCD) in Abu Dhabi stated that a number of social challenges prompted the development of the Family Wellbeing Strategy; the most important of which are the wellbeing of senior citizens, average quality family time, and divorce and marriage rates. Thus, the Strategy will target three focus areas, namely the family, senior citizens and youth. The Strategy will study and analyze the root causes of existing challenges, as well as develop dedicated initiatives to serve as adequate solutions thereto.
In this respect, Dr. Bushra Al Mulla, Executive Director of the Community Development Sector at DCD explained that a meeting had taken place with more than 30 external stakeholders to understand the current strategies and plans in place, as well as their association with the quality of life and existing social challenges. She also stated that DCD organized 23 focus group sessions to analyze current social challenges in cooperation with various society segments and the social sector workforce. Additionally, another 16 interviews were conducted with different sector leaders in the Abu Dhabi Government to discuss national priorities and improve the strategic context. Three other digital workshops were also organized, focusing on ensuring alignment and developing a common understanding of the quality of life in order to design a theory of change and develop sustainable solutions in line with the Strategy's desired objectives and identified priorities.
Furthermore, Al Mulla affirmed that several existing challenges required the development of the Abu Dhabi Family Wellbeing Strategy; whereas 37% of senior citizens shed light on their dissatisfaction with the services provided, which may result in the development of societal signs of depression in the future. The second challenge revolves around quality family time. In this context, 45% of the respondents of the second edition of the Quality of Life Questionnaire affirmed that the quality time they spend with their families is short to very short. This decline may be due to long working hours and travel times that pose a serious impact on the levels of communication between family members. The third challenge is represented in a decrease in divorce and marriage rates in Abu Dhabi, resulting from the lack of communication between spouses and the impact of social media thereon.
Moreover, Al Mulla announced that the DCD has already reached advanced stages in the process of launching the Abu Dhabi Family Wellbeing Strategy, aiming at improving the quality of life and wellbeing of the target focus areas. The launch of the Strategy will, therefore, come as a result of cooperation and integration between local and federal entities and the private and third sectors as part of DCD's mission to serve as an entity in charge of the regulation of Abu Dhabi's social sector, as well as improvement of the quality of services offered and provision of an adequate standard of living for all members of society in line with the directives of the Abu Dhabi Government's leadership to promote the citizens and residents' happiness and satisfaction with the standards of living and life in Abu Dhabi.
Al Mulla further explained that efforts to develop the Strategy have so far completed several developmental stages and taken many methodological steps, starting with the development of an understanding of the leading quality of life-related practices adopted around the world, and the assessment of Abu Dhabi's current quality of life state. This helped in the identification and discovery of existing challenges, leading to coordination with subject-matter experts and stakeholders with the aim of developing qualitative initiatives and making recommendations as part of the three sub-strategies to improve the quality of life of families, youth, and senior citizens.
Al Mulla noted that the concept of “Quality of Life” is universal, referring to the quality of life and standard of living of individuals and bearing a set of socio-economic dimensions that are quantitatively measured by a number of indicators adopted around the world and by relevant international organizations; and that such metrics fall into two categories; objective metrics and subjective metrics - such as the emotions developed with respect to life satisfaction in general.
Al Mulla added that, over the past few years, developed countries around the world have attached great importance to the concept of "Quality of Life" as a concept through which it is intended to identify the extent of satisfaction and happiness of members of society in a particular country or city. It is noteworthy to mention that Quality of Life constituted a top priority, taking lead over the achievement of the objectives of economic growth and increased GDP, as the latter is now considered to be a rough indicator of the society's standard of living and does not directly reflect the levels of health care, education or social ties in a given society.