The spirit of Ramadan was on full display in Dubai’s Ibn Battuta Mall on Monday night when it hosted 100 underprivileged children and orphans for a special iftar event.
The project, entitled 200 Smiles, is part of the citywide Joy of Eid initiative, organised by the Rawafed Centre and Dubai’s Red Crescent, to spread happiness among less fortunate children.
Shadidh Abdullah, who co-ordinated the event, explained how 200 orphans and underprivileged children will take part in the event over a three-week period in Ibn Battuta Mall.
“Ibn Battuta has sponsored tonight’s event, they are sponsoring 200 children to come and shop for their Eid clothing,” she said.
“The idea is that it is a tradition during Eid that you get new clothes, we wanted to bring joy to all of these children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
The National spoke to some of the children taking part in the evening.
“I am looking forward to getting to choose a new dress,” said Noor, 8, from Egypt.
“I am going to do a lot of shopping. I am going to buy a pretty red dress to wear.”
Dresses were certainly top of the shopping list for Noor’s friends Jenna and Maya as well.
“I want a purple dress,” said Maya, 8, also from Egypt.
Jenna, 10, also wanted a dress, but she has her heart set on a white one.
“With shoes and accessories of course,” she said.
The children who were all fasting all agreed that they were big fans of Ramadan.
“I love the fruits you get for Ramadan,” said Jenna.
Maya said: “I like to pray a lot for Ramadan.”
The last word was had by Noor who declared that she likes Ramadan because “I get to eat a lot of nice food”.
After the children had iftar in Chuck E. Cheese, and played to their hearts content on the amusements, they were paired with volunteers who took them shopping for new clothes.
“A lot of the children’s families can’t afford new clothes, so the children often wear hand-me-downs,” she said.
This is the third consecutive year that Ibn Battuta Mall has played host to orphans and underprivileged children ahead of Eid.
“Instead of just putting money into a charity box we are asking people to take a child shopping and give them that opportunity to buy new clothes, it gives the volunteers that opportunity to share in the joy.”
The 200 Smiles project has a special agreement with Redtag in Ibn Battuta Mall which allows a certain budget for each child to select their Eid clothes, after they receive a fashion and styling session.
Hamdan Musallam Al Mazroui, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the UAE Red Crescent, said the idea behind the event is to not only bring joy to the underprivileged children, but also to the volunteers who shop with them.
“We just wanted to give everybody the opportunity to share in this,” said Abdullah.