Two businessmen feed over 3,000 workers in Dubai every day

Imran Karim distributes food and drinks to workers along the Jumeirah Road in Dubai.— Photo by Dhes Handumon/ Khaleej Times
Imran Karim distributes food and drinks to workers along the Jumeirah Road in Dubai.- Photo by Dhes Handumon/ Khaleej Times

Dubai - A team of six volunteers helps them in handing out food and gifts to the workers.

By Sherouk Zakaria

Published: Wed 24 Oct 2018, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 26 Oct 2018, 8:11 PM

Instead of watching TV or working out at a gym, two Malawi entrepreneurs have found a more special way to spend their after-work evenings: Serve about 3,000 construction workers every day.
Brothers Mohammed and Imran Karim head to various construction sites near Jumeirah's Kite Beach every day at 5pm to distribute snacks, refreshments and hot food to workers and janitors as they wrap up their day. Then they move along Kite Beach, ending the two-hour journey at a mosque in Umm Suqeim.
"The guests we serve at the mosque are of over 12 nationalities and different religions and backgrounds, we do not discriminate any race and colour," Imran told Khaleej Times.
When each worker gets his share, they raise their thumbs with a smile and say "happy happy", in reference to the initiative that the family started last year to spread happiness and cheer among those in need. In one month alone, the family has distributed over 100,000 meals. Since it officially started last year, the "happy happy" initiative has served over one million food packs in Dubai, and thousands more globally.
"We dedicate two hours every day to do this after a long day of meetings. It is the time off that gives us a peace of mind," said Imran, who's often joined by his brother Mohammed, his driver and volunteers.
He started the daily food distributions two years ago, before launching the official "happy happy" initiative. The giving legacy runs in his family, and it started when his father placed a big cooler outside their residence at Emirates Hills in 2005 to serve workers in the area.
After 13 years, the journey of giving continues as Karim - along with his wife and four daughters who help in packing the items - loads trucks and fridges from home. A team of six volunteers helps them in handing out food and gifts to the workers.
On Thursdays, the family's major food distribution reaches an average of 7,000 workers in construction sites and camps across Al Barsha, Jumeirah and other areas of Dubai.
"These people work for long hours with no one to go to since their families are back home. They need someone to support them and provide them with what they need," said Karim.
Once a month, Karim distributes bags of medicines and toiletries to the site workers.

Going global

The UAE-based labourers and cleaners are not the only beneficiaries of Karim's philanthropy, as he has already taken his "happy happy" initiative globally to about 14 other countries. He recently took part in rebuilding Kerala, distributing items for thousands of families who were affected by the flood in the south Indian state.
He bought Eid clothes and gifts for children in Islamabad, Pakistan, after a trip to Baghdad that saw him distribute toys and food to 1,100 children last December. Karim is no stranger to organising Ramadan iftars to over 5,000 workers, but he makes sure philanthropy continues all year long.
"The difference between what we do and what happens in Ramadan is that we are consistent. Helping and giving should be part of every day."
When asked about the reason behind naming his personal initiative "happy happy", he said: "In one distribution, when my brother was handing out food, he looked at a worker and asked "happy?"; the worker replied "happy happy" and we could see it in the brightness of his eyes and his big smiles. In whatever we do, we make sure they are happy."

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