Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 30 September 2020

Dubai restaurant donates thousands raised from day's sales to Beirut: 'It was one of our busiest days to date'

When Bait Maryam’s founder announced that they would be donating the day’s sales to help Lebanon, she did not expect the overwhelmingly positive response

Chef and founder Salam Dakkak said she would want to support any country or cause that is in dire need. Supplied
Chef and founder Salam Dakkak said she would want to support any country or cause that is in dire need. Supplied

The recent explosion at the port in Beirut has put a spotlight on the actions of everyday heroes.

Salam Dakkak is one of those heroes. When the founder of JLT restaurant Bait Maryam heard about the explosion – which has, to date, killed 158 and injured 6,000 – she was devastated. But she decided to take that emotion and channel it into a positive initiative.

“When we heard about the devastating news, my family and I were in a state of shock. We went through waves of sadness and helplessness,” says Dakkak, who grew up in Jordan and was formerly a school owner and cooking teacher in Saudi Arabia. “But when I woke up on Wednesday morning, I realised I could spend the rest of my day feeling hopeless … or I could do something that may be helpful.”

Dakkak put out a call on social media to say that the restaurant would be donating all of the day’s sales to help Lebanon. It was an idea spurred by a moment, which meant that they didn’t have enough time to prepare a proper campaign or hire extra drivers or staff.

“Personally, I thought because it was last minute, we might not be able to have the message reach many people on the day,” she says.

She was wrong though. Word of the initiative spread quickly on social media, with Dakkak's plea going viral.

“Word spread so fast that we were not ready for the overwhelming response we had. The phone was ringing off the hook and our online ordering platforms crashed because of the high number of orders.

“At a point there were 30 delivery drivers waiting outside and we went into factory mode to be able to fulfil all orders. It was one of our busiest days to date and as tiring as it was, it was the most rewarding day personally for me on the job.”

 Levantine kitchen Bait Maryam donated all proceeds from sales made on Wednesday, August 5, to charities helping Beirut. Supplied
Levantine kitchen Bait Maryam donated all proceeds from sales made on Wednesday, August 5, to charities helping Beirut. Supplied

Dakkak adds that she would like to support any country or cause that is in dire need, and already has another project in the pipeline.

“It is our duty as people or businesses to do whatever we can to help in a way possible,” she says.

“To be honest, the experience we had at Bait Maryam really restored our faith in humanity. It showed us how, when it is really needed, people are able to come together. I was also really thankful for social media because our message was able to reach so many people in a short period of time. It’s amazing the power people have when they come together.”

Updated: August 10, 2020 07:50 PM

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