The initiative was started for those who do not know how to cook or afford quality food
KT photos by SM Ayaz Zakir
A truck packed with hot meals, water, fruits, laban, and dates makes its way to DIP, Sajja, Tecom and Al Quoz to treat residents of these neighbourhoods to iftar. It is part of an initiative led by a Dubai family to feed residents who cannot afford quality meals or don’t know how to cook.
Preparing such a humongous quantity of food is no mean feat. From sourcing meat, rice and other raw materials, the preparation for the iftar meal starts early morning. The sourced items are transported to multiple kitchens in Dubai and Ajman where chefs start their preparations at 7 am. They have to cook 7,500 kg of mutton or chicken pulao, which is then packed in over 16,000 aluminium food packets and dispatched to various locations.
Besides the main meal, 16,000 water bottles, laban, 4,000 kg of fruits, and 200 kg of dates are also distributed daily.
This grandeur iftar is courtesy of Happyhappyuae Drive, an initiative led by the Malawian brothers Imaran Karim and Mohammed Karim and their family members. They collaborated on the iftar initiative with Model Service Society, a UAE-based welfare organisation.
“By the end of this Ramadan, we are targeting to distribute over half a million meals,” said Imran Karim, highlighting that Ramadan is a time when people all over the UAE come together to serve and give back to the community.
The Happyhappyuae Drive focuses primarily on distributing meals to people who cannot cook or afford quality food during Ramadan. “The meals are distributed where there is a large concentration of people like labour camps, mosques and other such places,” said Imran Karim.
Over 200 volunteers work tirelessly to ensure that everyone receives a nutritious and fulfilling meal. “At times, there are disagreements with guests. I explain to our volunteers that Allah feeds us daily by elevating us and not ridiculing us. These beneficiaries are the guests of Allah and have higher status,” explained Mohammed Karim.
Thousands of residents queue up during the iftar meal distribution time. They have to collect a variety of items from different stations. “Our guests get the hot meal first, then dates, laban, fruits, and a bottle of water. The queue keeps on moving continuously and this allows us to cater to thousands of people in just an hour and a half,” said Imran Karim.
The impact of the Ramadan drive has grown exponentially over time. It now feeds more than 500,000 people in Ramadan alone, excluding the other 11 months of the year when food, water, and laban are distributed all over Dubai daily, at least 3,000 people benefit from it per day.
“The drive has become an integral part of our Ramadan experience, with people from all walks of life coming together to make a difference in the lives of those in need,” said Imran Karim.
New volunteers are welcome to join the initiative. “We are not looking for financial contributions. The best gift they can give us is their valuable time,” said Imran.
“It’s all about giving back to humanity.”