How to donate to UAE charities helping those affected by Covid-19

Everyone can play their part to address the health, economic and financial consequences of the virus outbreak

Illustration by Mathew Kurian
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In every crisis, there are those who suffer disproportionately and those who have the means to step up and provide financial support to others.

The worldwide Covid-19 outbreak is no different, but what sets it apart is its global scale, its widespread effect on countless businesses and entire sectors, and the need to mitigate health, economic and financial consequences all at once.

While governments are rolling out fiscal stimulus packages, central banks are taking monetary policy measures and retail banks are providing financial relief to customers, individuals and businesses can also play their part in their own communities.

It is not always easy to figure out the optimal way to provide support, though, given the importance of going through accredited charities and legal channels.

In the UAE, government-sanctioned organisations soliciting donations for Covid-19 relief funds include Ma’an – the Authority of Social Contribution in Abu Dhabi – and Dubai Cares. YallaGive, a Dubai-based crowdfunding platform, has collaborated with Emirates Red Crescent and plans on partnering with more charities in the near future.

As of Monday, there are more than 1.2 million confirmed Covid-19 cases worldwide and over 69,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the pandemic. More than 264,000 have recovered.

The UAE has 1,799 cases with 10 deaths and 144 recoveries. New travel restrictions were imposed in Dubai on Saturday with residents asked to stay at home unless they need to leave for food or medicine, as the sterilisation programme was extended to 24 hours a day for two weeks.

Globally, there is a need to address the health crisis itself, as well as the knock-on effects from the precautionary measures taken to contain the spread of the virus. In addition to immediate support in the form of medical supplies, long-term support is required to help individuals who have lost their jobs, small businesses struggling to survive and vulnerable communities who cannot cope with the fallout.

Here, we outline the ways you can help in the UAE.

Salama Al Ameemi, director general of Ma’an, said the 'Together We Are Good' programme will address current health and economic challenges. Photo courtesy Ma'an


Ma'an, the Authority of Social Contribution in Abu Dhabi, rolled out its 'Together We Are Good' programme on March 22. By March 27, it had raised more than Dh100 million.

We felt how much the residents are actually caring about being a part of this and we really appreciate that.

While the programme is not specifically targeted towards Covid-19 relief, the funds will be put towards providing medical and educational aid as well as food supplies.

"We can channel it to the right causes. When we say causes, it's not only coronavirus," Salama Al Ameemi, director general of Ma'an, tells The National.

“It could be unemployment, it could be medical supplies, it could be services that need to be provided to the community that are deemed necessary,” Ms Al Ameemi says.

Ma’an was established in February 2019 by the Department of Community Development in Abu Dhabi with the aim of bringing together the government, companies and individuals to foster a culture of social contribution. Its four main pillars include a social investment fund, a social incubator programme, community engagement programmes and social impact bonds.

“This is basically the first programme launched under the social investment fund,” Ms Al Ameemi says. “We noticed a lot of people coming out saying that they want to contribute, but they don’t know what channels are available and trusted by the government.”

Ms Al Ameemi says the organisation prefers to refer to donations as contributions, rather than “charity”, as “we’re moving very much away from charitable work to more of a philanthropic approach”.

Major individual contributors include Abdulkader Sankari, chairman of Sankari Investment Group and Paris Fashion Group, who, with his sons, donated Dh20m.

“As a gesture that recognises what the UAE has given me, my children and I are honoured to donate Dh20m towards the ‘Together We Are Good’ programme,” Mr Sankari said in a statement.

“The country has taken the necessary measures to keep us all safe and I would like to thank all the medical staff who are working around the clock to protect us from coronavirus that is widely spreading around the world,” he added.

Company donations include Dh25m from Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank and Dh3m from the Abu Dhabi National Insurance Company.

Aldar Properties employees pooled a Dh1m contribution. Last month, the Abu Dhabi real estate developer also signed an agreement with Ma’an to develop the first social impact bond in the GCC and said it will invest Dh2m in the project.

Ma’an has also received hundreds of calls and thousands of text messages, with people making financial or in-kind contributions, as well as offering to volunteer. Non-financial donations included hotel rooms, villas and apartments, cars, meals, industrial buildings, tents, farms and land space.

“We felt how much the residents are actually caring about being a part of this and we really appreciate that,” Ms Al Ameemi says.

How to donate:

Call the hotline on 8005-MAAN (6226) or send a WhatsApp message to +971-54-305-5366.

Make a transfer via First Abu Dhabi Bank using the IBAN number: AE100351011003988349032

Send an text message to 6670 (Dh50), 6678 (Dh100), 6683 (Dh500) or 6658 (Dh1,000).

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Dubai Cares

Dubai Cares, part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, is focusing on the education element of the crisis. More than 1.5 billion students in 165 countries – nearly 90 per cent of the world’s student population – are out of school due to school closures, according to Unesco.

Last month Dubai Cares joined Unesco’s Global Education Coalition to help countries find solutions for distance learning to minimise educational disruptions caused by the pandemic.

“At a time when 87 per cent of the world’s student population is affected by Covid-19 and as we witness large-scale school closures in order to stem the pandemic, finding alternative methods for children and youth to learn has become an urgent priority,” said Tariq Al Gurg, chief executive of Dubai Cares.

In a video “message of solidarity” on the Dubai Cares website, Mr Al Gurg states “some countries are privileged to have distance learning and some are not” as many countries “don’t have the financial capacity, nor the human capacity to adopt these e-learning models”.

Since its inception in 2007, Dubai Cares has launched education programmes reaching over 20 million beneficiaries in 59 developing countries. Its aim is to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030.

How to donate:

Abdulla Al Nuaimi, founder of YallaGive, said the crowdfunding platform has partnered with Emirates Red Crescent and is in discussions with other charities. Photo courtesy YallaGive


YallaGive, the first licensed online donation and crowdfunding platform in the Middle East, has collaborated with Emirates Red Crescent to launch a coronavirus relief campaign. The goal is to raise Dh500,000 “to help others during this difficult time”.

“Emirates Red Crescent will be utilising the funds to support the individuals who are affected by coronavirus and also provide medical supplies,” YallaGive founder Abdulla Al Nuaimi tells The National.

YallaGive is going through the approval process with two additional charities to set up campaigns on its dedicated coronavirus relief fund page, according to Mr Al Nuaimi.

The platform has had more than 100 campaigns since launching a year ago, supporting charities such as Gulf4Good and Al Jalila Foundation. During the bushfires in Australia, individual fund-raisers and corporations raised nearly Dh300,000 through the site to help those affected.

Mr Al Nuaimi says he expects many people to donate and fundraise for the Covid-19 relief campaigns on the site, as "everyone is affected" and "it shows that people really need to be united".

How to donate:

There are also many international charities addressing the Covid-19 crisis. Here are a few that are recommended.


GlobalGiving, which has a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, has a Coronavirus Relief Fund. It has raised more than $1.2m (Dh4.4m) towards a goal of $5m from over 6,900 donors. Donations will "help stop the virus's spread and give communities on the front lines of the crisis the resources they need to act quickly and protect the most vulnerable", according to the fund's page.

GlobalGiving sends regular email updates about how donations have been put to use. For example, in the early stages of the crisis it made emergency grants to non-profits working to respond to and contain the spread of Covid-19 in China, Italy, Iran, South Korea and the US.

How to donate:

Penny Appeal Middle East

Penny Appeal Middle East, a non-governmental organisation with its headquarters in the UK, is distributing Covid-19 relief kits to vulnerable communities that include staple food items, sanitation products and toiletries. A $75 donation will provide a relief kit for a family of four. Donations can also be used to provide testing kits for $100 each.

For the Syria coronavirus response in particular, Penny Appeal has distributed more than 1,450 hygiene kits to displaced Syrians, but said on its website that “much more support is needed” for a country already ravaged by nine years of war.

How to donate:

World Health Organisation

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and Unicef announced a partnership on Friday to work together through the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund. The fund, which stands at more than $127m, is powered by the United Nations Foundation and Swiss Philanthropy Foundation.

"Covid-19 is an unprecedented pandemic requiring extraordinary global solidarity to urgently respond," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of WHO.

An initial portion of the fund will flow to Unicef for its work with vulnerable children and communities all over the world. Donations will be used to train and equip communities and healthcare workers to prevent, detect and treat Covid-19. It will help countries expand their healthcare capacity and mitigate the social impact of the virus. Finally, the fund will be used to accelerate research and development of treatments and vaccines.

How to donate: