UAE companies adapt to help feed families most in need this Ramadan

Covid-19 and social distancing has forced firms to think creatively to ensure they can still reach workers

For many companies across the UAE, helping to provide food for those less fortunate during the month of Ramadan has become something of a tradition.

Today, however, with the outbreak of coronavirus, businesses have been forced to think more creatively to ensure they can still reach those in need.

In previous years, companies hired huge tents to host large iftar dinners for low-income workers.

But with eating together no longer possible a new solution was required. A rise in job loses sparked by the pandemic also meant more people needed help.

“Usually every year we serve cooked food to Muslims as well as non-Muslims, mostly in labour camps, who get together at Iftar to eat together,” said Mohamed Siddique Fazlani, owner of food producer Mellow Trading.

“This year, however, due to restrictions on public gatherings, it was not possible to serve cooked meals.

“We came up with the idea of handing out rations in the form of a kit containing food items like rice, dal, wheat flour, sugar, oil and other essentials.”

Based in Dubai, Mellow Trading was established in 1991 and supplies produce from pulses and nuts to coffee and spices.

Mr Fazlani said that despite Covid-19, the company was still determined to continue its tradition of giving to low-income workers during Ramadan.

The firm began distributing its food kit 20 days before the start of the holy month, and will continue to do so for the duration of this week.

Each kit feeds a family of five for 15 days and by the end of Ramadan Mellow Trading will have provided 220,000kg of food.

“Breaking the fast together with relatives, friends and co-workers gives people a sense of togetherness and unity,” said Mr Fazlani.

“However, sadly, with the Covid-19 pandemic situation and social distancing, this has not been possible.

“The magnitude of people affected by the virus situation is huge - loss of jobs and income has led to people not having money for food.

“Some of these are families are with newborn babies as well as old and sick parents. However, adversity has helped us realise the value of a lot of things that we took for granted.

“I believe that there is always some good that comes out of adversity.”

Earlier this week, it was announced that a Ramadan campaign to provide free meals for UAE workers had vastly exceeded its target.

More than 15 million meals were donated to the 10 Million Meals initiative during the holy month, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, revealed in a tweet.

“Over 100,000 participants from 115 nationalities helped secure 15.3 million meals,” he wrote.

“More than 1,000 volunteers are working daily to distribute food. All segments of the UAE society united to help people in need.”

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