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2023 Middle East happiness rankings: UAE, Israel happiest as Lebanon hits bottom

The Middle East and North Africa region remains the least happy region after sub-Saharan Africa globally, but several regional nations have become happier in comparison to the previous period.
JOSEPH EID/AFP via Getty Images

Lebanon is the least happy nation in the Middle East region, and Israel and Gulf nations are the most, while Turkey continues to decline in happiness rankings according to a new edition of the World Happiness Report released this week. 

The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s 2023 World Happiness Report ranks 137 countries based on several criteria including income, health and a sense of freedom to make key life decisions. The Middle East and North Africa is the least happy region after sub-Saharan Africa, the report shows, but a comparison of the 2022 and 2023 rankings shows that several countries including Israel, Iraq and Iran have become happier over the past year. 

Israel, which remains the happiest nation in the region, climbed to the fourth happiest country across the world from ninth. 

While Gulf nations, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and the region’s powerhouse Saudi Arabia are the second group of happiest countries in the broader Middle East and North Africa region, all three of them have become less so over the past year, the rankings showed.

The United Arab Emirates, the second happiest nation in the MENA region, dropped two places from 24th to 26th globally. Saudi Arabia, the third happiest nation, fell five places, landing at 30th in the global rankings.  

In the Gulf group, Bahrain registered the biggest decline by dropping to 42nd from 21st globally, but the nation is the fourth happiest nation in the region.

Algeria, Iraq and Morocco follow the Gulf nations in the global rankings. Algeria appears to be more happy in comparison to the 2022 rankings by climbing to 81st place from 96. Iraq also saw a significant leap, climbing to 98th in 2023 from 107th in 2022.

Iran, which has been engulfed in nationwide anti-regime protests, also became happier over the past year, rising its ranking from 110th to 101st from the previous period.

Tunisia also seems more happy than the previous period, as its ranking has risen to 110 from 120.

Turkey, meanwhile, slid six ranks in the 2023 report, dropping from the 106th to the 112th happiest nation globally. 

Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon are the least happiest nations in the Middle East and North Africa region. Yet, Egypt and Jordan seem more happy by rising their ranks eight and 11 ranks, respectively, from the previous period.

Lebanon, meanwhile, is the least happy nation, along with Afghanistan globally. 

Middle East and North African countries’ happiness rankings from highest to lowest with their global placements are as follows:

Israel: 4th

UAE: 26th

Saudi Arabia: 30th

Bahrain: 42nd  

Algeria: 81st

Iraq: 98th

Morocco: 100th 

Iran: 101st

Turkey: 106th

Tunisia: 110th

Egypt: 121st

Jordan: 123rd

Lebanon: 136th

The 2023 report did not rank Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Yemen, Syria or the Palestinian territories.

On the global scale, the Nordic nations dominated the top three spots, with Finland, Denmark and Iceland being the happiest nations across the world.

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