Coronavirus: UAE's Jordanian community unites to aid families in need

Food vouchers and hotel rooms were donated to help those who have lost jobs

SHARJAH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , May 11 – 2020 :- Raed Al Shanableh, Jordanian volunteer helping families who have lost jobs and are struggling to make ends meet during this Ramadan at his home in Sharjah. (Pawan Singh / The National) For News. Story by Nick Webster

A community of Jordanian citizens have united during Ramadan to help people financially impacted by the spread of coronavirus.

Since the first job losses and family incomes were lost in mid-March, more than 250 families have benefitted from food vouchers and accommodation paid for by the Fazaat Nashama UAE project.

Co-ordinator Raed Alshnableh, who has lived in Dubai most of his life, said he was compelled to act after seeing friends and colleagues fall on hard times.

“This problem is occurring all over the world, and many people have lost their jobs including in the UAE,” said Mr Alshnableh, 50, an area manager for Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank in Dubai.

“Since the coronavirus arrived here, many people have been left without work or the means to earn any money to pay for food and accommodation for their families.

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Many people have been left without work or the means to earn any money

“We try to help anyone we can who needs our help.”

Their fundraising is fully licensed by the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai, through the Bait Al Khair Society.

Mr Alshnableh began by rallying friends to help out.

Many of them collected money from businesses and well-wishers to buy Carrefour cards to give to those most in need.

Each gift card is valued at Dh100 and provides brief respite from the hardship and worry many are facing.

Families are gifted up to five vouchers to spend on food and essentials depending on their number of dependents and financial situation.

The project aims to reach as many people as possible, and not just Jordanian nationals.

It has also helped support people from Somalia, Syria and Egypt.

Some of those in need were visiting family in the UAE when the borders closed and have been left homeless.

The Al Raha Hotel apartments in Sharjah has put up 30 people, while the Landmark Hotel in Dubai has accommodated seven others.

“For these people who came on a tourist visa, we have rented a home or hotel room until they are able to return home,” said Mr Alshnableh, who lives in Sharjah with his wife and five children aged, 21, 19, 15, 11 and 4,

“We are paying for that too. Some friends of ours have hotels or motels who have agreed to help.

“Another challenge has been to get the medication that some of these people need as it is very expensive. The government has been a big help to give us all the approvals we need to do this work, and our own consulate.

“If we do not help each other during this time, it would be a miserable time for everyone.”

The seven founding members of Fazaat Nashama UAE collectively donated Dh150,000 to the cause.

Numbers have since swelled to more than 40 business men and women either donating their time or money to help others.

Eman Damra, an education supervisor in Sharjah, was left with time on her hands when her school closed to focus on distance learning.

Like many others, she saw the break as an opportunity to give back to her community.

“As a team, we have all come together to make this happen and help the situation for as many people as possible,” she said.

“There are many who are suffering who have lost jobs or their income.

“Helping others is part of my personality. I like to give up as much of my time as I can.

“We are helping people across the country, in Dubai, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain.”

There are some 200,000 Jordanians in the UAE, with about 10 per cent in need of some kind of help.

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We want to help the unemployed here as well as visitors who need to get home

Repatriation flights are due to begin with Royal Jordanian Airlines from Dubai on May 15 and Abu Dhabi on May 16.

Nader Salameh Alsuhaim, economic counsellor for the Embassy and General Consulate of Jordan, helped utilise relations in the UAE to support the initiative.

“We want to help the unemployed here as well as visitors who need to get home,” he said.

“I contacted Fazaat Nashama at the beginning of the outbreak as they needed consular support and financial help to support their work.

“Everything has been going very well since then.

“Some people have needed help with medicine and NMC Hospitals has helped one person with kidney dialysis.

“Almost all of those in need are on tourist visas and are waiting to be in a position to fly home. We would like to be able to have more flights very soon.”

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