ABU DHABI // The Zakat Fund has spent more than Dh24 million on nearly 10,000 beneficiaries in the UAE the past two months.
During 15 meetings in July and August, fund officials decided to give the financial aid to those with special needs, with limited income, university students, hospital patients, those in debt and other needy segments in society.
Abdullah bin Aqeedah Al Muhairy, the secretary general of the fund, said the poor received more than Dh6m, widows received Dh1m, divorcees more than Dh2m, and more than Dh1.7m was given to those needing medical treatment.
Orphans were given Dh687,000, university students received Dh3.4m and those in debt received Dh675,000. Local women married to foreigners shared Dh4.5m.
Mr Al Muhairy said the number of beneficiaries has been expanding, as more people have become eligible.
He said officials worked hard to provide financial support to people as fast as possible, but only after studying each case first to ensure the recipients were genuinely in need.
Commenting on the importance of Zakat, which is funded by Muslims as an annual alms tax, fulfilling the third pillar of Islam, Mr Al Muhairy said it helped thousands of families.
Giving Zakat was necessary to purify earning and instil dignity among community members, he said, thanking all who had contributed this year.
This was the fifth year Alya Rashid had received financial aid from the fund. An elderly Emirati housewife married to a Pakistani driver, she said life was far from comfortable, but since registering at the fund, the couple had received payments on the eighth day of every month.
Thanks to this assistance, the couple had been able to pay their rent.
"Thank God, we are living," said Mrs Rashid, from Bani Yas. "We are elderly, and we don't work."
She said getting on the fund's beneficiary list had not been difficult. Fund officials sent assistance a few months after the couple explained their situation.
Although she still struggles with finances, Mrs Rashid said she and her husband were pleased with the fund.