The third phase of the initiative focuses on proactively creating a fundamental shift in the mindset of government sector employees
"If you can't buy food it's for free. This is gift from Allah (God)," reads a small note written in English and Arabic hung on Foul w Hummus restaurant in Al Barsha in Dubai.
The owner of the Jordanian restaurant, Fadi Ayyad, told Khaleej Times that he noticed labourers from nearby construction sites and newcomers searching for jobs through a recruitment office located right next to the restaurant would occasionally pass by the area. Some of them would stand hesitantly in front of the restaurant.
"A lot of people, especially the young jobseekers new to the country, come with limited budgets that sometimes doesn't accommodate their food expenses. So we thought of offering support in a simple way," said Ayyad, a 37-year-old Jordanian expat who opened the restaurant in 2009.
Since the note was recently put up, the restaurant serves free food for over 10 visitors daily -- from labourers and young jobseekers to families in need of food but find it difficult to afford.
He said it is also the restaurant's way of curbing food waste and giving food to those in need instead. "We are one community, and we should support to each other when we can. It is only through giving that we gain," said Ayyad.
Welcoming the idea was Egyptian Amro Mohammed, 30, who manages the restaurant run by about 15 employees.
He said the gesture received positive feedback from the community where neighbours or passersby occasionally offer cash donations to cover the expenses of free food given.
"We come across people who cannot afford food but are too shy to ask. So they would ask for the cheapest item in the restaurant. In that case, we offer it to them for free," said Mohammed, who's been in the UAE for the past five years.
"Sometimes a big group of workers stand in front of the sign hung at the door, so we don't hesitate to invite them in and give them food," added Mohammed.
He recalled an incident where a young jobseeker ordered a small sandwich, and when he was served big meals instead, he started crying.
"It's a simple way to give back only part of the blessings we are granted. And we want to show people that there's still some good in this world," said Mohammed.
He stressed that such small gestures of kindness, if performed by everyone, would make communities a better place.
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