Photo essay: Dar Al Ber Society has been serving free iftars since 1978

Founded in Dubai, the humanitarian organisation provides more than 324,000 meals each year during Ramadan

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In the heart of Bur Dubai, shadowed by tall apartment buildings dotted with retail spaces, sits the Ibrahim Khaleel Masjid.

Along with an expansive courtyard and classic prayer room, the mosque is home to the Dar Al Ber Society. Founded in 1978, the humanitarian organisation is one of the oldest charities in the UAE. Among its many services, it has been providing free iftar meals to the less fortunate during Ramadan since its formation.

The name Dar Al Ber loosely translates to “house of charity” in Arabic.

As the call to prayer sounds for asr at 4pm, large groups of men queue along the pavement and down the bustling streets surrounding the complex. Nearby, the society's staff are busy checking the 2,500 meals supplied by three different kitchens that will be served today.

“Portion size, quality and hygienic packaging are all factors we look at,” one volunteer tells The National.

Each meal is placed along the communal row of seating, either on carpets or plastic mats provided specially for iftar. Laban, dates, fruits and water accompany a flavourful masala chicken biryani served warm.

The meals are placed first, after which worshippers are filed in to take their place and wait for the remaining daylight to fade until the maghrib prayer, which starts right after sunset and denotes the end of the fasting day.

“This year is especially significant for us operationally since we do not have to invest in the added cost of setting up tents with the weather being cooler,” says Yousef Abdullah Al Yateem, the assistant chief executive of Zakat and Community Development at Dar Al Ber Society.

“This helps us purchase more meals and feed more people. We have more space because we can seat everyone outside in the open air.”

Annually, Dar Al Ber Society's Ramadan project distributes meals at 23 locations across the Emirates daily. With headquarters in Dubai, the society also operates branches in Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman.

More information is available at

Updated: March 22, 2024, 6:01 PM