Paying the annual zakat can now be done on a trip to Bawadi Mall in Al Ain, as the Zakat Fund launched its first ATM-style donation machine there yesterday.
Zakat, or alms, is required of every Muslim who can provide a day's worth of food, once a year. Although many people prefer to give zakat directly to people they know who are in need, and some send it to troubled countries, the UAE-based Zakat Fund distributes donations to the needy.
The launch of the ATM comes as part of the fund's efforts to reach the maximum number of people, said Abdullah al-Muheiry, its secretary general.
"This new service will serve people for not only paying their zakat but also for calculating it. Zakat can be paid cash or through cheques or credit card. Machines are programmed to receive all currencies," he said.
Intisar abu-Ayad, a 45-year-old resident in Al Ain from the Palestinian Territories, welcomed the idea as "innovative and civilised".
"We usually send our zakat through the fund's bank account," she said, "but this is definitely more convenient, because we already go to the mall whether the machine is there or not. So why not pay our zakat while we are there?"
There are already 11 Zakat Fund ATMs in government buildings, malls and co-ops in Abu Dhabi emirate.