Zakat – the amount donated to charity – should generally be about 2.5 percent of the yearly savings of those working, but Muslims of a truly generous spirit are known to set aside a great deal more to aid the needy. Aside from helping the poor, Zakat helps to purify the soul by getting rid of any greed or miserliness that you might be holding on to, and promotes empathy with those less fortunate.
Here in the United Arab Emirates there are many charitable organisations, both private and government-backed, to which you can financially contribute throughout the year. And even if you don’t have much money to give, offering your time and assistance is also always much appreciated.
All As One This international charity is based in Sierra Leone, but has a Dubai office that’s registered as a non-profit organisation. Its aim is to respond to the needs of Sierra Leone’s children, offering support through food, education, housing and the treatment of illness and disease. www.aaodubai.org (04 311 6707).
Dubai Cares Launched in 2007 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the charity aims to improve access to education for children in developing nations through schemes such as improvements to infrastructure, food programmes and medicinal support. www.dubaicares.ae (04 450 4550).
Friends of Cancer Patients Based in Sharjah, Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP) provides support for cancer sufferers and their families in the UAE, focusing on the provision of financial aid and the promotion of disease awareness and prevention through screening and education. www.focp-uae.org (06 506 5542).
Gulf for Good Gulf for Good organises adventure challenges in which Gulf residents and nationals can participate to raise funds for good causes. Challenges include climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, following the Inca Trail in Peru, kayaking and camel trekking. www.gulf4good.org (04 368 0222).
Médecins Sans Frontières A private, non-profit organisation that provides assistance to any country that is affected by catastrophic events, such as armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition or natural disasters, especially when they overwhelm local health systems. MSF is involved in several projects in the Middle East including Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. www.msf-me.org (02 6317 645).
Mission to Seafarers The organisation raises money to fund the support boat, The Flying Angel, that offers counselling and facilities to isolated seafarers off the coast of Fujairah. The seafarers are responsible for bringing most of the goods we use into the country. The Dubai chapter – Dubai Seafarers – is always on the lookout for volunteers. www.missiontoseafarers.org (04 357 6060).
Red Crescent Society The UAE chapter, based in Abu Dhabi, is known to provide sponsorship for orphans, as well as medical and educational assistance and aid. Aside from helping with housing, health and education in countries such as Palestine, Yemen, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, they also take up local projects such as construction and maintenance of houses, mosques and schools within the UAE. www.rcuae.ae (02 6419000).
The Dhaka Project The charity raises money to help slum children and their families in Bangladesh, with funds used to teach life skills to adults, while giving their children an education. Just $20 provides vaccinations for hepatitis B and typhoid for a child, as well as health cover for a year. It was founded by Maria Conceicao, who has now gone on to establish the Maria Christina Foundation, dedicated to changing the futures of children. www.thedhakaproject.org / www.mariachristinafoundation.org.
Tukutana Foundation A non-profit organisation that provides essential resources and holistic development opportunities for orphans, vulnerable children and the people and communities that care for them in East Africa. www.tukutana.org.
Ewa’a Shelter for Women and Children The shelter aims to protect victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation in the UAE, providing assistance and care. The centre welcomes financial donations as well as skilled volunteers that can contribute. There is also a dedicated hotline (800 7283) to report suspicions of trafficking. www.shwc.ae (02 558 4812).
Volunteer in Dubai This not-for-profit outfit founded in 2008 helps match volunteers to charities. Registered participants will be updated on various charities that are on the lookout for help, whether that includes donating a few hours of time or a specific skill they have to offer. www.volunteerindubai.com (04 452 1106).
Dubai Foundation for Women and Children Established in 2007, this foundation was the first licensed non-profit shelter set up in the UAE for women and children who are victims of domestic violence, child abuse and human trafficking. The foundation provides a 24/7 helpline (800 111), emergency shelter and support services to women and children. www.dfwac.ae (04 606 0300).