Charity and looking out for those less fortunate is an important part of Ramadan. After more than a year of battling against the pandemic, there are more people in need than ever.
This year, there are numerous initiatives being set up to allow members of the public to donate free meals to children, families and individuals who need them most, whether you want to do this by donating money or by choosing a box of food supplies or an iftar meal to be sent directly to their door.
Here are seven ways you can do it in 2021.
100 Million Meals
What is it? The UAE has set out a plan to fund 100 million free meals in 20 countries across the region, in one of the biggest food drives of its kind.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, unveiled a major campaign to ensure people in need do not go hungry, saying 820 million people undernourished globally, including 52 million in the Middle East and North Africa region.
The campaign is an expansion of 2020's 10 Million Meals campaign, which helped people in the UAE who lost jobs and saw salary cuts during the pandemic. It also worked to feed people who would normally end their fast at free iftars at mosques and public places, which had to be cancelled because of the pandemic.
How can you donate? A website set up for the campaign allows people to donate as little as Dh10 to fund 10 meals, rising to Dh500 or more. You can do this via the website, SMS or bank transfer and even over the phone. All details on how to do it are available online.
A Meal for a Brighter Tomorrow
What is it? Dubai Holding and the United Nations World Food Programme have teamed up for a year-long partnership aimed at supporting child nutrition in countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.
As part of this, the first joint campaign is called A Meal for A Brighter Tomorrow, which will see school meals reach children in need.
Today, about 73 million children around the world go to school hungry, according to the UNWFP. In the Mena region, millions of primary and secondary pupils are out of school as a result of poverty and conflict-induced displacement. The campaign hopes to provide a way to bring children back to school and reduce school drop-out rates.
How can you donate? The campaign is featured on ShareTheMeal, an app by UNWFP that raises funds for those in need around the world. Users can donate and share meals by tapping on the Dubai Holding home card within the app, or by visiting the website.
You can choose how much you want to donate, from Dh3 for one meal to Dh90 for 30 meals and Dh1,095 for a full year's worth of meals. You can then choose from a drop-down menu where you want this donation to go, whether to Yemen or Palestine or even the Democratic Republic of Congo.
What is it? Last year, Dubai Culture launched a campaign that honoured labourers in the city, and in 2021 it's expanding this to also include support for needy families across the emirate in cooperation with food delivery app talabat, Emirates Red Crescent Authority and the UAE Food Bank.
Through the initiative, you can buy iftar meals or provide boxes of food supplies, which will be safely delivered to beneficiaries' houses across Dubai.
How can you donate? Download the talabat app and find the Ramadan Heroes option (you can simply search for "Ramadan" within the app).
There are two food box options, for Dh75 and Dh150. The former contains staple food supplies, such as rice, oil and canned foods, with enough to feed four to five people over three days. The large box feeds eight to 10 people.
For Dh20, you can donate one iftar meal voucher.
Dar Al Ber Society
What is it? One of the UAE's leading charitable organisations is to serve up more than 8,000 free meals to people in need each day during Ramadan.
The Dar Al Ber Society also pledged to provide clothing for 1,600 people through donations.
Other projects include giving food baskets to 1,000 people across the month, as well as raising Zakat Al Fitr for 7,000 beneficiaries in the UAE.
How can you donate? You can contribute via the society's website, smart app or through its customer service centres, which are spread across Dubai, Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah.
You may also come across representatives of the society in the Emirates' shopping centres and malls, and you may donate through them.
Eat a Plate 2 Fill a Plate
What is it? This programme has been set up by ride-hailing company Careem, which allows customers to directly donate a meal to someone in need using its new Eat a Plate 2 Fill a Plate widget under the Food section in its app.
With every meal you buy, a partner restaurant will donate a meal to a child via the UNWFP's ShareTheMeal initiative.
How can you donate? Open the Careem app, locate the Food section and then click on the category named "Eat a Plate 2 Fill a Plate".
There, you'll find a list of participating restaurants, which have either chosen dedicated meals for the campaign or left their entire menu open (you can easily locate which dishes are available at the top of each menu).
These include Papa Murphy's Pizza, which is offering 30 per cent off on dishes at the time of writing, and has two savoury pizzas, one dessert pizza and a cinnamon wheel among its options for this campaign. Other restaurants include Projeto Acai, Poke & Co, Man'oushe Street, Nando's and Hummingbird Bakery, to name a few.
Fujairah Charity Association
What is it? This charity association in the northern emirate has launched an iftar meals project that will see food delivered to 85 distribution points in Fujairah and Dibba.
The number of fasting people expected to benefit is projected at 16,666 per day, with the charity aiming to provide a total of half a million meals throughout the holy month, if not more.
How can you donate? Log on to the iftar meals project page on the charity's website and choose a distribution location from the interactive map. It shows all locations, and users can access expected cost of the meals, choose how many they want to donate and make payments using a smartphone.
Sharjah Charity International
What is it? As part of Sharjah Charity International's ambitious Joud campaign for Ramadan, one million iftar meals will be distributed inside and outside the country at a cost of Dh15 million, plus food baskets will be delivered to 25,000 beneficiaries at a cost of Dh3.2 million, according to a statement.
This will take place from 93 sites across Sharjah, as well as select locations outside the UAE, and in the emirate will target areas with a higher population of low-income people and less fortunate families.
A basket for a big family costs Dh800 and for a small family it's Dh500. One iftar meal is Dh15. You may also choose to donate Zakat Al Fitr for Dh20.
How can you donate? Donations can be made through the digital channels on the charity's website, as well as via text message and bank transfer. For more information, you can call the toll-free number 80014.