x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Charity pins hopes on economic recovery

The society was created in 1989 by philanthropic businessmen to distribute donations to the needy, including non-Muslims.

DUBAI // Details of a campaign targeting the wealthy were announced yesterday by one of the country's largest local charities, amid optimism that an economic recovery will fuel giving. The Beit al Khair Society's campaign will run until Ramadan, when donations typically peak. "In the holy month of Ramadan, things are completely different," said Abdeen al Awadi, the general manager of the society. "All the groups work to increase revenues during this period."

The society was created in 1989 by philanthropic businessmen to distribute donations to the needy, including non-Muslims, mainly in Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and the Northern Emirates. The campaign will largely target the wealthy, senior officials such as ministers and directors general, Federal National Council members, rich merchants and donors, companies and government departments. Representatives of Beit al Khair will also doorstep 100 officials to let them know about its programmes.

The project is an ambitious one. The society is banking on prospects of economic recovery. Officials said last year's revenues were down compared with previous years as a result of companies making less money during the financial crisis. However, the Zakat Fund, a government body that distributes zakat, the Islamic alms, said revenues in the first quarter of this year had almost doubled over the same period in 2009. "There is increased confidence, the country is more lively," said Saeed al Mazrooei, Beit al Khair's deputy general manager.

The society distributes an average Dh7 million (US$1.9 million) in zakat every month, making it one of the country's largest distributors of the tax. Most recipients are the needy - families whose members earn less than Dh1,000 (US$270) a month on average. The society has a list of more than 2,500 such cases. It also helps divorcees, orphans, the elderly and widows. This year it is launching initiatives targeting debtors and people whose homes require extensive maintenance.

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