Islam calls on its followers to give to the needy throughout the year, but Ramadan is an opportunity to do so on a far greater scale. Time Out rounds up worthy causes around the UAE and beyond.
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 any greed or miserliness that you might be holding onto, and promotes empathy with those less fortunate.
Here in the UAE there are numerous 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.
Whether you can offer storage space for free, organise a grocery donation drive or use your skills and 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 directly to those in need.
www.volunteerindubai.com (06 503 4535).
All 4 Down Syndrome
A Dubai organisation that 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).
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).
Emirates Wildlife Society
The 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.
Ewa’a Shelter for Women and Children
The shelter 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 7283).
www.shwc.ae (02 558 4812).
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
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, 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’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).
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 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.
rcuae.ae (02 6419000).
Riding for the Disabled
This programme 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.
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 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.
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
www.thelittlewingsfoundation.org (050 281 2443).
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.
Volunteer in Dubai
Not-for-profit outfit that helps match volunteers to charities. Registered volunteers are updated on charities looking for help.
www.volunteerindubai.com (04 452 1106).