By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS Middle East Correspondent
Gulf nations in the Middle East are no stranger to the global credit crunch that has gripped most parts of the world for the past couple of years. However, with the Holy Month of Ramadan fast approaching, several Gulf based organizations are seeking to give back to the less fortunate during the auspicious season.
One such nation is Dubai, which has recently suffered a spate of well-publicized economic woes, with the UAE based Red Crescent Society pledging to spend in upwards of $270,000 per day for each day of fasting in Ramadan. The generous initiative will benefit at least 65 countries, with special attention given to Islamic nations ravaged by war such as Pakistan and Palestine. The money will be spent on vital necessities such as food, medicine and clothing.
According to the UAE Red Crescentâ€™s Secretary General Mohammed Khalifa al-Qamzi more money is expected to pour in as the initiative gains publicity and as the Holy Month nears, â€œWe want to point out that the specified budget for the seasonal Ramadan projects, whether internal or external, are initial amounts that multiply with the response and interaction of donors with our agencyâ€™s efforts.â€ This year, donors can specify where their money goes, whether abroad or to be used domestically in the UAE. The Red Crescent has come under fire in years past for not paying enough attention to the needs of poor UAE residents.
Other countries in the Gulf region are also getting involved in the spirit of giving. In Kuwait, the largest telecommunications companies are taking a hands-on approach to helping the less fortunate within the borders of the tiny Gulf nation. Zain Telecommunications has already begun distributing boxes full of food to needy families in Kuwait. The boxes, known as â€œMachlah,â€ are filled with basic necessities like milk powder, cooking oil, sugar, flour, spices, pasta and dates. The boxes will be distributed to individual families as well as to local mosques to ensure that they are within the reach of those in the most need. Zain Telecommunications will also have a Ramadan tent to provide daily Iftar meals for those in need of a hot meal to break their fast.
College students attending the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), Bahrain campus, have also taken an active interest in supplying necessities for the less fortunate this Ramadan. The 4th Annual Ramadan Charity Campaign will deliver food to needy families within Bahrain. Organized and packed by students, the charity campaign offers a welcome relief for families trying to put food on the table.
Many families in the Gulf region struggle with exorbitant price hikes in the run-up to commencement of the Holy Month of Ramadan. As a result, even basic necessities are pushed out of the reach of families already struggling to make ends meet. The majority of Gulf nations, including Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar, have forbidden price hikes of any kind prior to and during the Holy Month. Government inspectors, for each respective nation, will keep a close eye on prices to ensure affordability.