Ramadan 2021: how 1.2 million iftar meals are prepared and distributed in the UAE

Iftar meals are offered for free to thousands of workers, vulnerable families, elderly people, frontline medical workers

Preparing and delivering 1.2 million iftar meals to homes in the UAE is no easy task. But Emirates Red Crescent makes it happen with an efficient, tried and true system during the holy month.

The organisation distributes a total of 45,745 food boxes to 218 locations in the country on every evening of Ramadan.

Dining tents are banned this year as a safety measure for Covid-19. But iftar meals are still offered free of charge to thousands of workers, vulnerable families, elderly people and frontline medical workers.

Othman Al Hussaini is one of 20 volunteers who helps with the distribution of iftar boxes at a workers’ camp in Al Mafraq, Abu Dhabi.

“This pandemic has changed the practices, customs and traditions in the UAE,” he said.

“Now everyone receives a meal and eats it in his residence, away from gatherings, for their safety.”

“At this workers’ accommodation, we are distributing around 2,280 iftar meals.

“In addition, thousands of meals are distributed to other camps daily and free of charge.

“The workers feel happy, bonded and loved. We are pleased when we see a smile on their face.”

More than 45,000 meals a day

About 300 volunteers and 20 staff members of Emirates Red Crescent ensure a smooth distribution of the meals.
About 300 volunteers and 20 staff members of Emirates Red Crescent ensure a smooth distribution of the meals.

Pearl Catering and Hospitality Services in Abu Dhabi is one of the 50 kitchens in the country that prepare meals for Emirates Red Crescent’s Ramadan programme.

Staff start preparing the ingredients at 10am, with 15 to 20 people assigned to cooking the food, while another 35 pack the dishes.

About 2,000 meals are prepared using more than 400 kilograms of rice and up to 500kg of chicken or mutton.

“We follow a daily menu rotation with chicken biryani, chicken or mutton gravy, chicken harees and so on.

“There’s also laban, dates, fruit and a bottle of water,” said Simon Youssef, the general manager of the kitchen.

“The meals are prepared while adhering to strict precautions.

“All our employees are vaccinated and go through PCR tests for Covid-19 once a week. We also have regular food inspections.”

At about 3.30pm, the meals are loaded on to trucks and transported to various locations including workers’ cities, humanitarian cities and national screening centres.

About 300 volunteers and 20 staff members of Emirates Red Crescent ensure their smooth distribution.

Updated: May 7, 2021 11:26 AM

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