“I feel for the cause,” says pastry chef Natasha Daoud, “and so I want to help in any way I can.”
The chef and owner of Pistachoux, Dubai, is donating 100 per cent of the dessert shop's profits to Palestinians affected by the Israel-Gaza war, starting Tuesday and until the end of the month.
Daoud, who is Lebanese-Canadian and has lived in the UAE since she was 11, says she has many Palestinian friends and is sending funds via the humanitarian organisation Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund.
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Daoud is not alone in her quest.
Palestinian-Jordanian chef Salam Dakkak, crowned Middle East and North Africa's Best Female Chef by the World’s 50 Best group this year, will also make a donation to the fund through her JLT restaurant Bait Maryam. This is in addition to sending 100 per cent of the profits the restaurant makes until Tuesday to Emirates Red Crescent.
The restaurant's Instagram reads: "To our families, loved ones and people in Palestine: our hearts are with you yesterday, today and tomorrow. It takes unimaginable strength to face the hardships you endure.
"Thank you for being a constant reminder to uphold human rights and shared values. We apologise for only being able to assist through humanitarian relief efforts. Know that we stand by you not because of nationality, race, or religion, but simply because we are human."
Rascals Deli, in Wasl Square, has also pledged profits from a whole week’s sales to Palestinian aid via Tarahum – For Gaza, a campaign launched by Emirates Red Crescent in the UAE. In an Instagram post, Rascals said it is hoping to work with the wider Arab community to “make a bigger impact”.
Palestinian restaurant Mama’esh, meanwhile, has asked “unemployed Palestinians who are currently stranded in the UAE” to reach out.
Elsewhere, Abu Dhabi restaurant Alkalime will donate all profits it makes on Monday, also via Tarahum, and is calling on customers – regulars and newcomers – to “have a meal for a good cause”.
Dubai residents who want to do their part can head down to Maiz, co-founded by Palestinian restaurateur Luma Makhlouf, which will be donating 100 per cent of its profits to Emirates Red Crescent until Sunday.
“As a Palestinian away from the disaster, you want to do anything to be able to help, and spreading awareness is very impactful,” says Makhlouf. “We are also hosting free healing and trauma release sessions for the community, to help people learn how to cope during this trying time. Our first one is this weekend and is fully booked.”
Makhlouf notes the reaction thus far has been overwhelmingly supportive.
“It’s been so beautiful and emotional to see Palestinians filling up our locations every day and night, all looking for a safe space," Makhlouf adds. "I have found myself in tears and cuddles with many of them during this very, very difficult time.
“We even had a group of 17 celebrate their birthday together. Even though no one wants to celebrate these days, they said they felt OK to unite as they knew it was for a good cause. I also appreciate other businesses coming out in support – that is a beautiful thing. All efforts are needed.”
Other establishments supporting the cause include Just A Bite Cookies dessert shop and food delivery service Sumac, both of which will send 100 per cent of the revenue they generate until October 31; and One Life Kitchen and Cafe, which will donate all the revenue from its D3 branch on Saturday and Sunday.