x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Zakat's ATM service allows easier giving

Launch says needy will benefit from 'hassle-free' donations

AL AIN // The Zakat Fund ATM at Al Bawadi Mall in Al Ain may appear no different to the others standing alongside - but it is the only one intended to take deposits for charity.

"To be honest, this is the first time I've noticed it. I think they should have an agent present at the mall who can draw people's attention to it," Mohammad Abed Dibs, a Syrian sales executive, said.

There are already 11 Zakat Fund ATMs in places such as Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi Co-operative Association, Al Wahda, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Tamm Centre in Al Gharbia.

"This ATM machine is going to be used well, especially during Ramadan and Eid," Mariam Sultan, an Emirati, said. "I tend to pay my zakat at the same Red Crescent centre every year, but if it was busy then I would not hesitate to come here."

Hassan Jadallah, a Jordanian accountant, said: "If I did not know who I would like to contribute my zakat to, then I would definitely use the machine. I tend to give zakat when I visit Jordan during Ramadan or Eid, but I do not doubt that this machine will help those who want to pay it in Al Ain."

"I prefer to contribute zakat to people I know are in need, rather than using an ATM machine," Mohammed Saleh al Alawi, an Emirati, said. "Having said that, I am sure it will speed up the process for many people, especially in this modern age."

Khaled al Aas, an Emirati businessman, said the ATM was better suited for limited amounts of money, but could serve zakat beneficiaries well.

"It is definitely going to be easy to use, especially for those who want to pay a specific amount in cash, but perhaps not so much for those who have a larger amount in mind that exceeds a few thousand dirhams," he said.

"I do think it is a great machine for zakat beneficiaries, since they do not need to stand in line and this is an alternative method to withdraw money."

Abdullah al Muheiry, secretary general at the Zakat Fund, said this week that the new ATM service would also help people to calculate, as well as pay, zakat.

Zakat can be paid in cash or by cheque and the machines will accept all currencies.

"This idea has been around for three years, since Zakat Fund introduced the first ATM at Gitex 2008," Jamal Mazroui, manager of the Zakat resources and media department, said.

"The concept is in line with a modern vision based on Sharia duty. We are hoping to increase awareness and ease the process for individuals through multiple channels such as our electronic website, mobile services and the ATM-style donation machines."

Zakat beneficiaries can use the service with a magnetic card. All debit and credit transactions from the machine are linked to Zakat Fund's central account and every person fulfilling zakat receives a receipt for his payment.

The Zakat Fund, a federal organisation that facilitates obligatory annual charitable donations by Muslims, has worked tirelessly to increase people's understanding and awareness of zakat.

"We want to ease the process of people paying their zakat from wherever they are - such as their home and the mall - without any hassle. We are hoping to launch five ATM-style machines in 2011," Mr Mazroui said.

"We do see an increase during Ramadan, but we feel that any new door that we open is bound to reap benefits for people in need."

balqabbani@thenational.ae