x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Red Crescent gearing itself up for Ramadan food distribution

As Ramadan approaches, the Red Crescent is preparing to hand out 31,500 meals per day to the needy.

ABU DHABI // As Ramadan approaches, the Red Crescent is preparing to hand out 31,500 meals per day to the needy, setting up tents across the city in advance of its annual distribution programme. The tradition of distributing the predawn and sundown meals - Suhur and Iftar - is carried out throughout the Muslim world during the holy month, when believers are required to share their wealth with the less fortunate.

But the Red Crescent outreach is part of a broader effort to help poor and needy families across the country by providing nutritional packages and coupons for food. Needy families will also receive the traditional Eid packages of new clothing, toys for children and other non-essential goods that are customary for the three-day holiday at the end of Ramadan. During the holiday it is also customary to slaughter sheep and distribute the meat among poor families along with zakat, money collected as a tax from all Muslims able to pay it. The proceeds are distributed through charities such as the Red Crescent.

Funding for the food distribution programme, in which as many as one million cooked meals may be handed out, comes from private donations and government charities. Last month the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation and the Ministry of Social Affairs began distributing more than 15,000 tonnes of food to 45,000 needy families ahead of Ramadan, which is expected to run from about August 21 to September 19.

The effort has been described as the largest of its kind in the UAE, with organisers expecting to reach more than 300,000 people. Free Iftar and Suhur meals will also be available to anyone who turns up at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque during Ramadan, and at designated homes and palaces. relass@thenational.ae