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Monday, September 20, 2021

Qatar charities expand free Ramadan iftar program to meet rising demand

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All photos by Chantelle D’mello

More than 3,000 low-income expats gathered at one of the largest charity iftar tents in Qatar last night to mark the third day of Ramadan.

The air-conditioned tent, located behind the Mövenpick hotel, is sponsored by the Qatar Red Crescent (QRC), and is one of many such venues set up around the country by charities this month to provide free meals to the growing blue-collar worker population.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

This year, QRC said it has increased its reach by setting up three additional tents in the Industrial Area, Al Wakra and Al Khor. At capacity, the tents feed some 6,000 people daily, more than double last year’s 2,800 people a day.

Such initiatives are not uncommon around Doha, as charities and individual donors often step up acts of kindness during the holy month of Ramadan.

Qatar Charity, Eid Charity, Reach Out to Asia (ROTA) and the Sheikh Thani Bin Abdullah Foundation for Humanitarian Services (RAF) are some of the other organizations involved in humanitarian projects over the course of Ramadan.

Speaking to Doha News, a QRC volunteer spoke about the spirit of the fasting month and the rationale behind the tents:

“It’s a way for us to observe the month in solidarity. Most men here don’t have their families or their wives here to prepare meals for them on a daily basis. We do this to take care of them, and to let them know that they’re not alone. It’s a communal experience, and one that’s open to everyone – male or female, Muslim or non-Muslim, Arab or non-Arab.”

Ramadan 2015 Charity Iftar
Ramadan 2015 Charity Iftar

Several Mowasalat drivers attending last night’s dinner echoed the sentiment, saying:

“This is a very good initiative because we are all together. It’s hard to be away from family during Ramadan and Eid, and with our busy schedules, we find little time to head back home to cook or spend money to eat Iftar outside. We are grateful for this because it saves us money, and because it allows us to meet and talk to other people from our countries and from other parts of the world.”

Growing demand

Since last May, Qatar’s population has grown by some 200,000 people, according to government figures.

Many of the new residents are thought to be construction workers hired to work on major projects ahead of the 2022 World Cup, and word about the free meals tends to spread fast, tent organizers have said.

For illustrative purposes only.
For illustrative purposes only.

Speaking to Doha News, Nayef Bin Faisal Al Mohannadi, QRC’s director of administrative affairs and human resources, explained:

“It increases every year. When we first started this project nine years ago, we had just one tent, but every year we’ve been growing to keep up with the demand. We’ve set aside QR 2,175,000 this year for food projects inside Qatar including the tents, and other food distribution initiatives that we have ongoing at the hospitals, the Grand Mosque and the Industrial Area.”

While QRC said it has had no trouble accommodating growing demand, a source at Qatar Charity told the Peninsula that some attendees had to be turned away this year due to limited seating capacities.

The meals

This year, Ramadan meals are alternating between large trays of chicken and rice and meat and rice shared between four to six people. Each attendee is also provided with a packet of dates, water, juice and laban.

Ramadan 2015 Charity Iftar
Ramadan 2015 Charity Iftar

QRC said that each day, dozens of volunteers arrive from 3pm onwards to set up the tents, organize guests on prayer mats around the meal trays and ensure that the meal stations are cleaned after iftar.

Imams and lecturers deliver talks on health and religion before the call to prayer, and lead trivia competitions, handing out QRC merchandise.

If the tent is especially crowded, men sit up to six a tray, and more mats and trays of food are added.

“We don’t turn anyone away. We’re equipped to handle extra numbers, and, since we’ve been doing this for so many years, we can estimate how many people come. On Friday, for example, we have less guests, as most people are off and make food for themselves at their accommodations,” Mohannadi said.

To combat any food wastage, some charities have been moving away from serving meals in large trays. Qatar Charity, for example, provides each attendee a styrofoam-covered meal pack, in the hopes that leftover food will be take home and stored.

Distribution of food
Distribution of food

Other organizations not participating in the charity iftar tent projects also lend a helping hand to minimize leftover food.

The Sheikh Eid Charity Association offers a pickup service to collect leftover food from homes, hotels, restaurants and other venues where quantities of food sufficient for 10 or more people are remaining.

Meals are then distributed via mini-vans to workers living in Sinaeya, Abu Hamour and Shahaniya.

Thoughts?

12 COMMENTS

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Rane de Beer
Rane de Beer
6 years ago

Well done! If only we could cultivate this attitude the whole year, and towards everyone.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Rane de Beer

Though targeted for Muslims, you will see many those have dinner are not Muslims.. No one checks religion at the door before they enter for a free meal..

Large male weddings for locals are usually in tents and you’ll always find two dozen men, usually not well off… outside waiting for dinner.. Once dinner is served they allow those men inside for a free dinner .. Many also bring in plastic bags to bag extra food For later or for someone else

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

There are also a number of charities that will gather and bring the poor to the weddings and/or deliver the food. The same charities will also gather food following corporate events and redistribute it.

The wedding food sharing is a good traditional practice. It’s followed in a number of other Gulf countries, too (at least KSA, Emirates, and Oman, based on weddings I’ve attended).

disillusioned
disillusioned
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

We import the less fortunate from other countries, pay them crappy wages such that they need charity and then feed them our table scraps.

Bask in the glory of our benevolence.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

No such thing as a free lunch…..

“Imams and lecturers deliver talks on health and religion”

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Prerecorded blasting from speakers being played on repeat

Jen
Jen
6 years ago

Bones and other scraps of chicken, meat etc can also be left out for stray cats.

raseed
raseed
6 years ago

alhamthulilla allahis great masha allah many many brakath for all qatari pepol ya allah say dua qatar

Doodz
Doodz
6 years ago

The fact is…. It’s free!!!

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

Anyone know if the Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons is doing free Iftar for the hungry western expats?

Expat
Expat
6 years ago

I don’t mean to be mean (nice one), but wouldn’t it be better if they used plastic spoons instead of their fingers?

Jen
Jen
6 years ago
Reply to  Expat

Why? What is wrong with eating with one’s fingers–many cultures do it–and thousands of plastics spoons costs money and mess up the environment. People have eaten this way for thousands of years–no ill effects.

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