Why one billion meals is just the start for UAE's new Ramadan food drive

The One Billion Meals Endowment aims to invest donations wisely to feed the hungry for decades

Boxes of food arrive in Lebanon as part of last year's One Billion Meals campaign. Photo: UAE Government Media Office
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UAE's Ramadan food campaign is just the beginning of the mission to deliver decades-long support to the crucial international effort to end world hunger.

The One Billion Meals Endowment, launched on Sunday by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, will take a different approach to previous initiatives rolled out during the holy month.

Instead of donations being spent directly on food parcels, they will go into endowment funds from which financial returns will be spent on feeding the needy.

The aim is to ensure the principal sum steadily grows, allowing vital aid to be delivered for years to come.

“The point behind this is to have projects that will generate income for many years to come. We hope for indefinite meals," said Sara Al Nuaimi, director at Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives.

“Returns of the endowment fund will be used to support people in need around the globe, without limitations to certain countries or a specific number of meals."

Endowments will be located in the UAE. The food scheme is expected to run until its goal of ending world hunger is achieved.

The scheme will begin on the first day of Ramadan and will continue until its target is met.

Last year, the One Billion Meals campaign set out to offer essential sustenance to people in 50 countries.

The MBRGI foundation said the latest aid effort was in response to a "growing food gap", exacerbated by the pandemic, global conflicts and climate change.

"The foundation is working on formulating a global vision to bridge the growing food gap, and its aim is to provide a food safety net for less fortunate groups around the world," said the foundation's statement.

Sheikh Mohammed shared details of the campaign on Sunday.

"As it has become a yearly Ramadan tradition, this year we launch the “1 Billion Meals Endowment” campaign, with the aim of sustainably providing hundreds of millions of meals to people in need. 828 million people suffer from hunger around the world, this means one in 10 people," Sheikh Mohammed wrote on Twitter.

"As humans and as Muslims, it is our duty to be there for those in need, especially during the month of Ramadan. Even a small but sustainable contribution makes a bigger difference than a one-time large contribution."

The One Billion Meals campaign website has details of several options for donors.

Money can be pledged online, either monthly or by a one-off donation. Donations can be by SMS message through Etisalat or Du, via the DubaiNow app or through a bank transfer.

For large donations and related enquiries, contact the campaign’s team on 800 9999.

UAE support fuelled by public generosity

The series of food campaigns started with the locally-held 10 Million Meals that supported communities hit by the coronavirus across the UAE during Ramadan in 2020.

In 2021, the 100 Million Meals campaign provided food parcels and instant smart vouchers to millions of people across four continents.

Its lofty goal was reached thanks to the generosity of 185,000 donors, including individuals and companies inside and outside the UAE.

Last year, an impressive 600 million meals had been funded by hundreds of thousands of donors in less than a month.

Sheikh Mohammed pledged to donate the funds for 400 million meals to ensure the One Billion Meals campaign hit its target.

Updated: March 22, 2023, 4:30 AM