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Friday, July 23, 2021

Qatar restaurant owners pick up tab for cash-strapped customers

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Zaiqa restaurant
Zaiqa restaurant

When first-time restaurant owners Shadab Ahmed Khan and his brother Nishad Ahmed Khan put up a sign outside their restaurant offering penniless workers free food, they never expected to become mini-celebrities.

The two owners of Zaiqa, an Indian restaurant in the Industrial Area that opened nine months ago, began offering free meals to workers a few weeks ago, after a customer who ate there said he didn’t have enough money to pay the bill.

Zaiqa restaurant
Zaiqa restaurant

Speaking to Doha News, Shadab Khan, a 46-year-old Indian expat who has been in Qatar for 13 years, explained:

“We gave him the meal free of charge. My brother then realized that there are probably more people who are in the same situation – people who don’t have money but are too shy to admit it, and are hungry. So we decided to do this.”

So far, the restaurant, which is open 24/7 and is located on Kassarat Street between Streets 22 and 23, has seen some 20 people – two to three a day – take up the offer. News of the policy went viral after it was featured on Qatar Living earlier this week.

Charitable giving

The initiative is the newest in a series of charitable actions that residents have been participating in to give back to Qatar’s large low-income migrant worker population.

Laban tap
Laban tap

Other acts of kindness include an outdoor fridge stocked with free drinks and food in a Qatari family’s compound; and a villa where fresh homemade laban is distributed free to thirsty passersby.

On Saturday, several customers who were at the restaurant praised the owners’ initiative. Speaking to Doha News, Mohammed Shahanoor, a Bangladeshi expat who works at a nearby shop, said:

“In the 13 years that I’ve been here, I’ve never seen anyone (in the Industrial Area) do this. It is very kind. Thank God we have not been in a situation like that, but I can only imagine what a relief it must be to people who don’t have money to get food for the day.

I’ve seen about three people so far, all Ethiopians, eat here for free.”

He added that many workers who live in the area struggle to afford food, because they are not paid on time. As a result, they must go to their grueling construction jobs on empty stomachs.

“They don’t have a choice. Sharing can only go so far, but everyone has to save money and sustain themselves,” he said.

How it works at Zaiqa

The brothers had initially decided to set up a refrigerator with free food outside the restaurant to save customers the embarrassment of admitting that they had no money. To better economize the initiative, they had also considered creating a set vegetarian menu.

Zaiqa restaurant
Zaiqa restaurant

However, those ideas were eventually shelved in favor of offering customers – regardless of their ability to pay – a more “normal” dining experience. The entire menu is now included in the free service.

“If someone comes in and says, ‘brother, I have no money,’ they are seated. Whatever they ask for – omelettes, rice, chapatti with curry, sometimes even biryani – they are given. Sometimes they come in for juices or cold drinks or water, and they’re served that too,” said Mohammed Imtiaz, one of the restaurant’s employees.

Unfortunately, Zaiqa’s Industrial Area branch is facing imminent closure because the location is facing demolition.

Zaiqa restaurant
Zaiqa restaurant

“We paid the capital required to secure the venue, some QR 700,000 in total, but were only given a one-year contract. There’s nothing we can do now, but concede,” Shadab Khan said, adding the eatery would be open for a few more months.

However, due to the success of the charity initiative, the owner said it will be incorporated into Zaiqa’s yet unopened branch in Umm Ghuwailina, and at two other restaurants slated to open soon.

“It’s not just because we’ve seen that more people are availing of it. As a Muslim, we have to give charity. And this is our way of giving back. A small percentage of our earnings is enough to keep this running here and at the other restaurants that we’re planning on opening, so it’s staying,” he said.

Thoughts?

41 COMMENTS

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Guest
Guest
6 years ago

Great story!

Guest
Guest
6 years ago

Sweet

N.R
N.R
6 years ago

We need more people like this in this world. It is sad to see how these people are not paid on time. Makes me wonder how they can do such a thing to people who had work hard to built this country. Such a shame.

Osama Alassiry AlMaadeed

Thank you.

Daniel Schriefer
Daniel Schriefer
6 years ago

Show your appreciation and go there. Eat and pay! You can become a part of this beautiful action.

Suraj
Suraj
6 years ago

Still there are people with humanity even there are so very few

KARTHICK BALU
KARTHICK BALU
6 years ago

When i go to Zaiqa with my Child next time, Definitely i will join in your charity & give you something. 🙂

Curiosity Killed the Cat
Curiosity Killed the Cat
6 years ago

I thought the ideal behind a sponsorship system is that they employee you and generally look out for you and some cases shelter burdens such as administration, health etc. well that’s how it’s sold and I know my sponsoring company has got me out of a few sticky situations! Who are sponsoring these people who cannot afford a rice meal. Where are they hiding? Why are others shouldering the responsability of these poor sods? MoI are spending time catching runaway employees, what about runaway sponsors who shirk their responsabilities? It kinda stuns me we need free food, charities etc in this country, when there is an overwhelming religious obligation, stupendous wealth and a systematic responsibility to prevent this from being needed. Hats off to the brothers.

Simon
Simon
6 years ago

Totally agree. As long as some are prepared to do these ‘good deeds’, then the truth will be hidden – how can expat jobs exist wherein the employee has to rely on charity food (or water, in the summer, and so on)?

GITS
GITS
6 years ago

Whatever we might say about the system/administration, still there will be a few hungry lot – out there seeking food!! It is with great respect & appreciation, I pray God to bless this small Restraunt owners prosperity & keep them safe!
They’ve begun…..let’s take it further 🙂

Radha Vasam
Radha Vasam
6 years ago

There is always another story behind the shining middle east or even many other countries. My sister in law first told me about Dubai living conditions of the laborers, and my heart broke, ’cause many millions from India, and other neighboring countries go to middle east to make good money and send them back to their respective countries, so that the families can raise out of the poverty. There are many sad stories of the laborers and to see them suffer. In fact it is the world over. The Khan brothers are angels.

Michael L
Michael L
6 years ago

Interesting to read a story that should invoke equal measures of both pride and shame.

Simon
Simon
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael L

Completely agree. As long as some are prepared to do these ‘good deeds’,
then the truth will be hidden – how can expat jobs exist wherein the
employee has to rely on charity food (or water, in the summer, and so
on)?

Shadab Khan
Shadab Khan
6 years ago

Thanks guys for your encouragement. This makes our effort worthwhile.
We do not need no money for this endeavor. Just your prayers and good wishes are more than enough.
Do come over. We have great food. The place is not too clean though.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  Shadab Khan

How is the place not too clean? That is a weird statement by a restaurant owner 🙂

Shadab Khan
Shadab Khan
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

The place is not so clean because there is dust all around. Courtesy Ashghal. No sewer. No road.

Still wierd?

Ms. Hala
6 years ago
Reply to  Shadab Khan

Masha’Allah, I applaud your efforts, we do need more people like you in the world.

May I suggest offering others to be part of your charitable effort in a “pay it forward” initiative similar to this?
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/01/14/377033772/philadelphia-pizza-lovers-pay-it-forward-one-slice-at-a-time

Fathima
Fathima
6 years ago
Reply to  Ms. Hala

I was thinking of the same option, I’m sure many people out there are willing to pay for another person’s meal. Brother Shadab, do consider and let the customers know of the option. May Allah bless you both for your sincere efforts.

Marie
Marie
6 years ago
Reply to  Ms. Hala

I was just going to suggest the same Ms Hala 🙂 Lots of us are already familiar with the idea of ‘paying it forward’, and would love to play our small part, but it’s not easy to do here in Qatar. I hear what you’re saying Mr Shadab Khan about your motivations, and it’s very honourable. But please consider the possibility that you can make something bigger happen that many of us would like to be part of.

Shadab Khan
Shadab Khan
6 years ago
Reply to  Ms. Hala

That might be a good suggestion but then we would need to keep track of all donations, make separate accounts etc. For now, alhamdo Lillah we are able to take care of it all by ourselves. In case this becomes a bigger cost than what we can afford, we might go for this option.
Just pray that we are able to shoulder this cost on our own.

Ms. Hala
6 years ago
Reply to  Shadab Khan

Alhamdulillah that you are able to do so.

From a business perspective, this doesn’t need to be complicated. Just have a box where payers can put change or donate towards the efforts. You can be the one to withdraw from the jar whenever the time arises or make it available for customers to do so.

Guest
Guest
6 years ago
Reply to  Shadab Khan
Lance Gee
Lance Gee
6 years ago

Rich country ? All expat in qatar have work. but the income are very low. i hope qatar should have pass salary standard which is higher that what they have now. wake up people!!!

Norbert
Norbert
6 years ago

Religion is not the reason here but a conviction that we need to be there for each other by ensuring that goodness reaches as many as can be reached to multiply goodness. Peace be unto all.

Catalea
Catalea
6 years ago

Great initiative ! glad to see some people are actually doing something to help the low income expats !
would love to help any way I can, i’ll drop by with my indian hubby 🙂

Mrinal Gautam
Mrinal Gautam
6 years ago

You guys are true Rcokstar!!! Keep up the good work….

Mukunthan Iyer
Mukunthan Iyer
6 years ago

First time I’ve read good about something in Qatar! Hats off to those brothers, for that! And, hats off to the government administration and all the sponsors for inviting such a situation in the first place!

Simon
Simon
6 years ago
Reply to  Mukunthan Iyer

The government might more usefully ensure that all jobs paid a wage which enabled the employee to buy food suffient for their needs.

Akz
Akz
6 years ago
Reply to  Mukunthan Iyer

If its first time you heard something good in Qatar, then either you are new to Qatar or must be living inside a cave over here.

Subedi
Subedi
6 years ago

Salute to the owner. Hope it is not a stunt to gain popularity and advertise the restaurant.

Shadab Khan
Shadab Khan
6 years ago
Reply to  Subedi

I like your scepticism. We are aiming to get paying customers. Paying Customers usually do not go to restaurants that offer free food. So it would be idiotic of me to do this in order to gain popularity.

Also, I am a tech savvy person, a film maker and am too good at marketing and advertising stuff that needs to be marketed. This is a sincere effort and we turn beck people who come to offer money to keep effort this going. In case we were trying to get money out of this effort we would have gladly accepted that money too. WOULDN’T WE???

AKBAR SHAIKH
AKBAR SHAIKH
6 years ago
Reply to  Shadab Khan

Great response! Sceptics will always doubt any effort, but one has to ignore them and go forward and do in good faith your noble work, and reward only from the one and only – Almighty Allah!

syed sabir
syed sabir
6 years ago
Reply to  Shadab Khan

before i knew 3 KHANS ..salman ..shahrukh..n amir khan…Now i know 2 more SHADAB & NISHAD KHAN…
REAL SUPERSTARS…..

Calin
Calin
6 years ago

Shadab and Nishad Khan, you are great people. i deeply admire and respect ur initiative of helping the ones in need. Many people here just talk about what we should do , however u guys actually took the initiative and did something. i wish both of you and for all the others are involed in this and other humanitarian acts great health and power.

Backer
Backer
6 years ago

May Almighty Allah give you brothers peace and prosperity.

Yes I will try to be there to eat and pay supporting you guys.

Manahil
Manahil
6 years ago

Amazing! May Allah reward them abundantly.

KM
KM
6 years ago

This is a beautiful story. Thank you gentlemen for your charity efforts. It warms my heart to see help to people who are here but earning too low of wages to feed themselves and their families back home.

SHAKEEL EK
SHAKEEL EK
6 years ago

good work bro

Radha Vasam
Radha Vasam
6 years ago

Thanks for the noble work you are doing – to the Khan brothers. Let us know if we can contribute to your good deed. No one in the world should go on empty stomach, something we learn from our elders and any religion teaches and from good humans. Please do let us know Shadab Khan ji, as to how to make contributions to your good efforts and deeds.

Javed Shaikh
Javed Shaikh
6 years ago

This is one of the greatest deed brother…May Allah make things easy for you.
I would say those who want to contribute go and eat and pay extra, so that more people can be feed.
I would suggest brother to chain of restaurants in same format so that needy people can make use of it…
My Allah accept your intension and make your hereafter easy.

Uttara
Uttara
6 years ago

First of all, my warm wishes to you sir! You represent humanity. Back in India, me and my mother would offer meals to homeless people on the roads.. And I applaud you for your efforts!
since Qatar is quite far from here, I won’t be able to pay a visit.
However I want to know if I cAn provide financial assistance online for this great cause. Kindly let me too share in this act of humanism .

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