It’s perhaps not the first accolade you would think of when think of the UAE, but it is an accolade none the less.

A study looking into the psychology of countries and their residents revealed that three countries in the Middle East – the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – are three of the most empathetic countries in the world.

If case you don’t know what empathic means, this is the Oxford dictionary definition: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

See, we told you it’s a nice accolade.


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According to the report, published in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, the UAE ranked in at an impressive fifth place  – Saudi came second and Kuwait tenth. In case you are wondering, Ecuador came in first. Lithuania was ranked as the least empathetic country in the world, while seven out of the bottom 10 were in Eastern Europe.

The survey, which looked at 104,000 people from 63 countries explored “cultural variation in empathy, and how this variation is related to psychological characteristics and prosocial behaviour across cultures.

Evidence from the survey also revealed that “higher empathy countries also have higher levels of collectivism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, self-esteem, emotionality, subjective well-being, and prosocial behaviour.”

It’s no major surprise that the UAE ranked so highly. Only recently we reported on how Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai sent his wife Princess Haya to personally man the delivery and distribution of 90 metric tonnes of aid to Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital that was recently devastated by a tropical cyclone.

The UAE was also listed as the world’s leading aid donor, being home to some of the most charitable people on the planet. Read about some of those caring people here.

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Image: Getty