Meet the group from Kerala serving 1,500 iftar meals in Sharjah every day

A team of four chefs cook for five hours to serve people breaking their fast

Hundreds of people gather at two Ramadan tents in Sharjah every day to break their fast.

In a return to normality, people patiently wait in a kilometre-long queue outside the twin tents at Al Ghuwair about 4.30pm.

Mohammad Ihsan, a university student, is one of those who reach early to get a spot inside the air-conditioned tents set up by Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC), where 1,500 free meals are served.

“I am happy that we are again eating together with people of different nationalities,” said Mr Ihsan.

He said he had been eating Ramadan meals prepared by KMCC for four years. For the last two years when tents were not permitted, meals were delivered to his house by the group’s volunteers.

Mujeeb Rahman, general secretary of the group’s Sharjah branch, said the volunteers did "an incredible work" during the pandemic years.

“When most people stayed at home, our volunteers delivered iftar meals as well as medicines to Covid-19 patients,” he said.

KMCC received permission to set up tents in Sharjah this year as coronavirus restrictions have been eased but it continues to deliver about 3,000 meals in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The distribution is handled by a group of 100 volunteers in Sharjah, 150 in Dubai, and 120 people in Abu Dhabi.

“We are grateful to the government for resuming iftar tents,” said Anwar Naha, general secretary of the UAE chapter of KMCC.

“You can see so many people are waiting in queues and our volunteers are keen to serve them. It shows that we all have been longing for tents."

How do the tents operate?

A meal box consists of chicken biryani, dates, fruit, juice and water.

It is prepared by a team of four chefs who start cooking at 10am and finish just after 3pm. They cook nearly 250 kilogram of rice, 250kg of chicken and vegetables.

The cooked food is taken to the tents at about 3.30pm where it is packed by a team of volunteers.

All the visitors go through thermal checks, said Zakeer Kumbala, who manages the volunteers. People are also required to wear face masks as part of Covid-19 safety protocols.

“We have a dedicated cleaning team and we make sure the tents are cleaned as soon as we have had our meals,” Mr Kumbala said.

At sunset, after the call for maghrib is heard, the volunteers join the visitors and end their fast. While a majority of the people go to nearby mosques to offer prayers, some stay back and offer prayers inside the tent.

Updated: April 12, 2022, 9:46 AM