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.
Speaking on the eve of Ramadan, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid unveiled a major campaign to ensure people in need do not go hungry.
The Vice President and Ruler of Dubai said the effect of the coronavirus pandemic continued to be felt.
He said there were 820 million people undernourished globally, including 52 million in the Middle East and North Africa region.
A website set up for the campaign allows people to donate as little as Dh10 to fund 10 meals, rising to Dh500 or more.
"Brothers and sisters, the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed many people to unprecedented survival challenges," he wrote on Twitter.
"Fifty-two million people just four hours away from us are threatened with hunger.
"Today, we launched a 100 million meals campaign. It is the largest campaign of its kind to feed people and distribute 100 million meals to 20 countries in the region.
"We will work with humanitarian associations, companies, businessmen and philanthropists in the UAE to send 100 million messages of goodness and love to the needy and the poor in the month of goodness.
"Distributing food is the best thing to do to bring us close to the month of fasting."
The campaign is an expansion of 2020's 10 Million Meals campaign, which helped people in UAE who lost jobs and saw salary cuts during the pandemic.
It also worked to feed people who would normally break their fast at free iftars at mosques and public places, which had to be cancelled last year due to the pandemic.
In a broader regional drive this year, Sudan, Lebanon, Jordan, Pakistan, Angola, Uganda and Egypt are among the countries who will benefit.
Speaking on Monday, Saeed Al Tayer, managing director of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), said the body had donated Dh10 million to the cause.
"Thanks to a benevolent leadership and carried forward by a generous people, we can assist those most in need, support the deprived and stand by the vulnerable during the holy month of Ramadan," he said.
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI) will coordinate with the Food Banking Regional Network and UN World Food Programme to reach the people who need food most this Ramadan.
UAE residents with Etisalat and Du numbers can donate through their phone providers.
To donate, send the word "meal" to the following numbers:
1034 for a Dh10 contribution
1035 for a Dh50 contribution
1036 for a Dh100 contribution
1037 for a Dh300 contribution
1038 for a Dh500 contribution
Larger donations can be made to the campaign’s call centre on 800 4999.
Last month, the UN refugee agency appealed for a major push for donations to its refugee zakat fund, which channels money from Muslims into camps and communities across the Middle East and Asia.
Officials said overall donations for refugees had dwindled, as governments redirected money towards tackling the pandemic in their own countries.
The UNHCR has projected a global budget of $9.1bn to help meet the needs of refugees and the displaced in 2021.
Within that figure, $2.7bn is needed in countries where it will be distributing zakat, providing support to 24.2 million people in Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, Mauritania, Egypt, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Iran, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Somalia.