DUBAI // Buy a CD and feed five starving people in Somalia for a day. Download a song and feed two victims of the worst drought to strike East Africa in 60 years.
These are among the compelling messages that the British singer Sami Yusuf has sent to his fans in the Middle East.
The 31-year-old songwriter is using his music and celebrity status to revive awareness about the food crisis in the Horn of Africa.
He has collaborated with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to dedicate proceeds from his latest single, Forgotten Promises, to fight famine in Somalia.
The music video for the single was filmed in 16 cities, including the desert and streets of Sharjah, where Yusuf has a home.
"We can all do something about this. You listen, you watch and now you can help because the onus is on you," he said during a press conference yesterday in Dubai, held in conjunction with the WFP.
"The situation there is disastrous. We can't let those people down."
Ashraf Hamouda, the WFP's head of business development in the region, said the campaign would renew relief efforts.
"Every 10 seconds a child is dying of hunger, and in Somalia we can all do something about it," Mr Hamouda said, adding that the first call for action went out in January last year when the crisis began. "Sami has created Forgotten Promises to remind people about what is happening. We need to rebuild shattered lives."
The initiative, named LiveFeed, allows people to download the song on www.livefeedafrica.org.
In the video that accompanies the single, Yusuf sings: "Tonight the world will sleep/But hunger will not wait/For promises we make," as a chorus of people filmed across the world snap their fingers and clap in tune.
In other scenes, Yusuf sings in Sharjah's Al Badayer desert and plays the piano in the middle of the emirate's Al Madam road, which was cordoned off by police for the shoot.
He promised to take his humanitarian message to social-media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to reach out to young people.
His CD will be available in music shops over the next few days, and the song can also be downloaded from hundreds of online music stores.
"It's good for the youth to follow Sami's lead," said Monther Khazer Deeb, the UAE Red Crescent's media and training coordinator. "We have to get kids used to humanitarian work and to plant humanity in their hearts so when they grow up they will do it [donate] on their own."
The UN declared a famine six months ago in the Horn of Africa, which covers north-eastern parts of the continent comprising Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea and parts of Ethiopia.
The severe drought caused food shortages and claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people in Somalia and brought more than 3.2million others to the brink of starvation, according to the UN.
The WFP has provided food aid to nearly eight million people in the Horn of Africa and will reach out to another three million over the next few months.
In the Emirates, aid organisations such as the UAE Red Crescent have also pitched in, following an urgent mandate last year by the President, Sheikh Khalifa.
Last week, a ship carrying 940 tonnes of food, clothes, tents and blankets sailed from the UAE to Mogadishu, Somalia's capital. A ship ferrying 1,400 tonnes of aid was sent to Somalia last September.
Yusuf is known for his rhythm 'n' blues tracks that blend the piano and violin with Arabic drums. He has sold more than nine million albums since his first one was released in 2003. This is considered a remarkable feat for a performer who sings mostly about Islam.
He has been named on a list of the world's 500 most influential Muslims for the past three years.
His composition Supplication was used on the soundtrack of the 2007 movie The Kite Runner, and was nominated for a Bafta, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award.
Yusuf has strong links with charity. Proceeds of his song Hear Your Call in 2010 were funnelled towards the Pakistan flood relief.
Quoting from WFP statistics, Yusuf said people should know that hunger was the world's biggest health risk, killing more people every year than Aids, malaria and tuberculosis.
"Everything is secondary when you are hungry because you just need to eat, and here we're talking about starvation," he said. "Hunger is a solvable problem and shouldn't exist in our world today. The youth can play a huge role in the fight by just spreading the word."