Philanthropy and charity are important parts of everyday life for most in the UAE, but especially during Ramadan. Read on for some worthy causes.
Zakat – the practice of charitable giving based on accumulated wealth, and one of the Five Pillars of Islam – is generally around 2.5 percent of your yearly savings, 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 (meaning ‘that which purifies’) helps to purify the soul by getting rid of greed or miserliness, and promotes empathy with those less fortunate. In the UAE, there are numerous charitable organisations, both private and government-backed, to which you can financially contribute. Even if you don’t have much money to give, offering your time and assistance is appreciated. Adopt-A-Camp This charity aims to improve the lives of labourers through a number of initiatives. Whether you can offer storage space for free, organise a grocery donation drive or donate your time to help the group, organisers are always keen to hear from you. www.adoptacamp.ae (055 862 2606).
Aid In Motion Give your unwanted clothes to this organisation and it will distribute them to those in need. www.volunteerindubai.com (06 503 4535). All 4 Down Syndrome
Aims to support families of kids with DS, as well as raise awareness among the public and in schools, and bring care in the region up to an international standard. They need volunteers with skills in music, drama, dance and IT. www.all4downsyndrome.com (050 880 9228).
All As One An international charity based in Sierra Leone with 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).
Al Noor A charity that assists children with special needs in Dubai. www.alnoorspneeds.ae (04 340 4844).
Babouka An online store based in Dubai that sells high-end cotton baby clothes made by women who are assisted by an NGO in Pakistan and an NGO in Zanzibar. Funds raised go towards providing literacy education, healthcare and much more for the women in each location. www.babouka.com
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, Dubai Cares 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).
Dubai Center For Special Needs Sells a selection of greeting cards depicting scenes ranging from traditional local heritage to exotic landscapes as well as paintings designed specially by students that attend the centre. www.dcsneeds.ae (04 344 0966).
Emirates Red Crescent 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 including 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 (800 RED / 733).
Emirates Wildlife Society Offers great volunteering opportunities for those passionate about conservation. Help promote the sustainable fisheries’ ‘Choose Wisely’ programme by becoming one of the community representatives. In return, you’ll be given training, promotional goodies and a T-shirt. www.facebook.com/ews.wwf
Ewa’a Shelter For Women And Children Aims to protect victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation in the country, providing them with the right assistance and care. The centre welcomes financial donations as well as skilled volunteers that can help care for victims. There’s also a hotline to report suspicions of trafficking (800 SAVE / 7283). www.shwc.ae (Abu Dhabi 02 558 4812, Sharjah 06 545 9933, Ras Al Khaimah 07 235 9626). Friends Of Cancer Patients
Based in Sharjah, Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP) provides support for sufferers of the disease and their families in the UAE, focusing on the provision of financial aid and the promotion of cancer awareness and prevention through screening and education. www.focp.ae (06 506 5542).
Gulf For Good Organises adventure challenges in which Gulf residents and nationals can participate to raise funds for good causes. Regular challenges include climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, trekking to Everest Base Camp, following the Inca Trail in Peru, cycling in Cambodia and kayaking. www.gulf4good.org (04 368 0222).
Mawaheb From Beautiful People
Mawaheb is an art studio that encourages the disabled and those with special needs to express themselves through art. You can buy expressive art and paintings, cards and ceramic items, and all donations support and develop the work of the charity and recognise the skills of the artists. www.mawaheb-dubai.com (04 353 2100).
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
A private, non-profit organisation that provides assistance to any country that’s 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 (04 457 9255).
Mission To Seafarers The organisation raises money to fund support boat The Flying Angel, which 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 looking for volunteers. www.missiontoseafarers.org (04 357 6060).
Riding For The Disabled
Uses interaction with horses as a therapy for students with special needs, promoting physical, cognitive and emotional development. The organisation is constantly in need of volunteers – without them, the children are unable to ride. www.rdad.ae The Dhaka Project 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 US$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, which is dedicated to projects that will change the destinies of children. www.thedhakaproject.org, www.mariachristinafoundation.org The Little Fair Trade Shop A Dubai-based online store that sells a vast range of gifts, stationery and jewellery at a price that’s good to you and to the artisans who make the products. The store has a broad collection of products that support organisations such as the Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children in Palestine, Swajan in Bangladesh, Bani Hamida Women’s Weaving Project in Jordan and Friends Handicraft. www.thelittlefairtradeshop.com
The Little Wings Foundation An independent non-profit organisation dedicated to providing medical help to kids with musculoskeletal deformities in the Middle East and North Africa. Funding is essential to ensure the group can keep helping children. www.thelittlewingsfoundation.org (050 281 2443).
World Wildlife Fund With the World Wildlife Fund, you can adopt an animal and help to protect endangered species. As part of the donation pack you’ll receive a cuddly toy of the animal you’ve adopted as well as a certificate. www.worldwildlife.org