For Muslims around the world, charity is an established necessity etched in the Islamic tradition, which helps them in strengthening their faith during this time of spirituality and self-reflection. The United Arab Emirates and especially Dubai, in this sense, occupy the position of a role model in inspiring citizens and believers worldwide to lend a hand towards the poor or the less privileged.
Although donations come in cash, dress, and several other materials, providing food to the disadvantaged is often reserved as the topmost priority.
Because rest all can wait, but not hunger. So, in this article, we will discover why it is important to give to charities during Ramadan and how Dubai residents can contribute to it effectively and lead a fight against the invisible pandemic which is hunger.
Why Charity is So Important in Islam?
Muslims are theologically advised to actively participate in charities, and the holy month of Ramadan in particular doubles the significance of giving back to fellow human beings.
More than any time of the year, Ramadan advises believers to internalize the value of donating one’s wealth to the betterment of the disadvantaged or humanity in general. Known as zakat, this process requires Muslims to donate 2.5 % of their wealth in ways that are convenient to them.
Apart from sharing one’s wealth, it also acts as a spiritual bridge, expressing gratitude for prosperity granted by the Almighty. In a way, charitable giving also helps to strengthen relationships across society and normalizes an empathetic and compassionate culture.
Why donate food during Ramadan?
Giving back or feeding the poor during the holy month is also considered a highly rewarding activity for a Muslim—A path to earning more blessings and goodwill, or an act of strengthening the bond with the Almighty. Fuelled by spirituality-led compassion, donating during Ramadan is met with an increased significance to help, and believers across the globe find more and more ways to address various sufferings, especially hunger.
As we step into the first quarter of 2023, there are 828 million people who are hungry in the world and an expected 345.2 million people are projected to be food insecure—more than double the number in 2020. What is more troubling is that one million of these crores of people worldwide are struggling to survive in famine-like circumstances that are marked by extreme scarcity.
Even though UAE’s 2020 hunger statistics, the latest to be released, mark a 0.4% decline in the ratio of hunger as compared to the previous year, 5.60% of the population was still reported to be hungry. UAE Govt initiatives like National Food Security Strategy 2051, Year of Giving, Food Bank, etc have been a huge solace in combating hunger within and beyond the borders, residents can also make a meaningful impact.
How to donate food in Dubai?
To humanity’s blessing, there are numerous organizations, initiatives, and methods to donate that accept food donations during Ramadan, so residents of Dubai need not be concerned about what, how, or where to process help.
If approached effectively, these organizations can help you reach your efforts in the right hands. So read on below to understand the various initiatives or methods to donate food in Dubai.
List Of Charitable Organizations / Initiatives
Thanks to the UAE’s culture of charity, individuals, and organizations in the country have been active in establishing charities for decades. While some of these organizations work privately, most associate themselves with the government for serving the disadvantaged sections all over the world. Now let’s look at some of the most prominent ones that deal especially with donating food.
1. One Billion Meals Endowment Campaign
The One Billion Meals Endowment Campaign, which was launched by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, is the largest food endowment fund and builds on earlier initiatives by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives.
The campaign aims to coordinate national, international, and local initiatives to combat and end hunger within a long-term institutional framework. Their main goal is to feed one billion hungry people in 30 different countries.
2. Emirates Red Crescent
Frequently referred to as one of the top humanitarian organizations in the UAE, the Emirates Red Crescent runs several programs to help people all over the world, offering everything from iftar and suhoor meals to clothing for Eid. Their Ramadan Projects helped an estimated 2.1 million people worldwide last year, and this year will likely be at least as successful.
3. Ramadan Sharing Fridges
A non-profit organization, Ramadan Sharing Fridges was established to help less fortunate community workers and laborers have access to free food and beverages during the month of Ramadan. The campaign, which was started by an Emirati resident and spread throughout the emirate of Dubai, has been urging people to donate to one of the numerous fridges set up throughout the city since 2016.
The program for sharing refrigerators accepts donations of anything from even the most necessities like common drinking water to juices, sodas, buttermilk (laban), yogurt, dry food (cans, biscuits, noodles), fruits, and vegetables. If you wish to fill up their fridges, kindly visit their Instagram page for more info.
4. Ramadan Heroes
Ramadan Heroes is a Dubai Cultural Initiative of the Dubai Culture and Arts Department working with partners Talabat, Emirati Red Crescent Society, and UAE Food Bank to support primary care workers and empower families across the UAE.
Residents can either donate cash to purchase Iftar meals or offer “Ramadan Meer” food packages via the Talabat application and once done these foods are delivered to beneficiaries, families, and individual homes.
Anybody who wishes to embody the spirit and value of giving can participate in this initiative and be a lending hand to the working class heroes and their families.
They function as the building blocks to any dreams of a nation, small or big, as they are the primary builders who do all the hard work. In a way, no nation’s economy grows or develops without the sheer support of its working class and Dubai understands that.
UAE Food Bank
Established in 2017, the UAE Food Book accepts food donations in large and aims to reduce food waste and support the neediest.
The food bank, which operates on the orders of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, recently unveiled an ambitious plan to provide three million meals and food parcels to underprivileged individuals and families during Ramadan.
To increase community knowledge, education, and empowerment in making better food consumption decisions, the organization successfully worked with Ne’ma, the national campaign to eliminate food loss and waste. The Food Bank, according to its official website, collects extra food from hotels, stores, and restaurants and gives it to people in need around the UAE.
Along with food distribution, their efforts also target food research and innovation, raise environmental awareness about food waste, and provide food aid to those affected by natural disasters.
If you would like to donate, consider giving non-perishable products like canned goods, rice, and pasta in addition to fresh foods like fruits and vegetables through the Dubai Municipality Food Bank website. Once you learn about the donation process, just drop in your locations and the respected authorities will come and collect the food.
Apart from these formal trajectories, there are other ways where you can donate food, such as mosques and supermarkets. Countless mosques in the UAE and Dubai have the habit of keeping food donation boxes/fridges outside where people can share food items.
The residents can easily participate in filling up these fridges at the mosques located across Dubai in places including Ras Al Khor industrial District, Hor Al Anz, Karama, Al Barsha, Al Nahda, Al Qusais, Al Quoz, and Jebel Ali Industrial Area.
These sealed items or food packages will then be thoroughly checked by the mosque authorities for ensuring safety. Once done, they will classify it into certain sections and dispatch it to local community members who deserve such packages.
Taking the case of supermarkets, Dubai Municipality has relocated part of its food bank refrigerators so that supermarkets can give their excess food to those in need directly. Usually, such spots were typically chosen near labor camps and building projects. Anyone can stock the refrigerators with extra packaged or dry food, canned goods with minor packaging flaws, and food or pastries that are getting close to their expiration dates.
These refrigerators will then be thoroughly checked by trained volunteers and staff members to ensure proper safety. The fridges will be operational all year, and more relocations will take place even after Ramadan.
But remember, you must be licensed!
Although charitable giving is strongly encouraged in the UAE, particularly during Ramadan, there are strict regulations on the activity that people must abide by.
People are permitted to provide free iftar meals to certain groups of people they know and trust, but they are not permitted to conduct an extensive fundraising campaign in person, online, or through messaging services.
Owing to the issues with safety and possible beneficiaries, the government has forbidden people from handing out free meals to strangers or organizing campaigns.
The laws controlling the process of soliciting, accepting, and making donations have been made clear by the Ministry of Community Development, and those who violate them risk jail time and/or a Dh500,000 fine.
In conclusion, Ramadan advises believers to refine the self by meddling in spirituality, sacrifice, and compassion. After all, giving back to the less fortunate is not just a ritual, but a moral responsibility that one can endure to fulfill and enrich their soul.
And donating food, a human’s basic necessity, is the most righteous way to handle that responsibility or address the call of the soul.
Be it charities, food banks, or the handful of informal sources, opportunities are many for Dubai residents to make a meaningful impact in the lives of millions during this Ramadan.
As the growing support of the UAE government and charity organizations has made it easier and more convenient to donate food than ever before, let us not hesitate in aspiring to be that big-hearted person, where all parties are mutually benefited in their ways.
Frequently Asked Questions
Indeed, anyone can donate food during Ramadan. Everyone is welcome to take part in this season of generosity and charitable giving.
Donating homemade food is not advised because it can be challenging to ensure that it is safe for consumption. Non-perishable food products that are packaged and sealed are the best to donate.
One can give a few food packages to their close friends in private, but it is advised to give to a reputable organization that is authorized to avoid unwarranted repercussions.
Yes, most of these organizations accept monetary donations, which they use to buy food items.
It is best to check with the organization ahead of time to make sure the items you are donating are acceptable because some organizations may have restrictions on the kinds of food that can be donated.