Ramadan 2023 in UAE: Viral Emirati chef says he wanted to teach his children the importance of giving

Ahmed Darweesh's video of cooking a huge meal with his four-year-old son to feed labourers went viral

by

Nasreen Abdulla

/

Abdul Karim

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Chef Ahmed Darweesh with his son Hamdan. — Supplied photos
Chef Ahmed Darweesh with his son Hamdan. — Supplied photos

Published: Sat 15 Apr 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 16 Apr 2023, 12:04 AM

An Emirati chef, whose video of him cooking a huge meal with his four-year-old son went viral, said he was trying to teach his children the importance of giving. Father of three, Chef Ahmed Darweesh, cooked a full meal that comprised of three goats and 25kg rice to feed over 300 workers.

“Children remember their experiences,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that my son experienced the joy of giving in an unforgettable way. My son Hamdan enjoyed the whole process so much that I am sure he will always treasure the memory of it. In fact, ever since then, he has been asking me every day when we can do it again.”

In the video posted on Instagram and Tiktok, Chef Ahmed can be seen cutting up the meat and washing the rice along with his son Hamdan before proceeding to continue cooking the biryani in his backyard. Hamdan, on the other hand, lays out oranges, laban and water, often carrying items in his kandoora because his arms are too small. Once the biryani is cooked, the father and son duo pack it into individual containers which they then load into their car and distribute among labourers.

The video has amassed over 20 million views on Instagram and over 10 million views on Tiktok with netizens hailing both of them for their act. Ahmed said he has been surprised by the amount of appreciation that has poured in. “In one day, I got over 100,000 followers,” he said. “There have been over 1,000 mentions. I am really surprised but grateful for all the love.”

Learning from his parents

The value of giving that Ahmed is trying to instil in his children came from his own parents. “My father and my mother would cook at least once or twice a week to distribute and feed other people,” he said. “Now their health doesn’t permit them, but I know that they are very happy when they see me doing it as well.”

Chef Ahmed Darweesh with his children.
Chef Ahmed Darweesh with his children.

According to Ahmed, this isn’t the first time he has cooked such meals or made a video about it. “I cook such a huge meal at least two or three times every Ramadan,” he said. “The largest batch I have made is 1,000 meals. Throughout the year as well, I cook and distribute food when I get the time.”

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Last year, he made a similar video with his then six-year-old daughter Mira. “I had posted that video on social media as well,” he said. “In fact, that is the reason why Hamdan came to me this year and said that he also wanted to make a similar video.”

Larger Movement

According to Ahmed, who founded and runs the restaurant chain I Love Burgers, he is hoping to inspire a larger movement. “I believe that every restaurant can cook an additional 10 or 20 meals to be distributed,” he said. “When you take into account the bulk quantities bought, it will cost the restaurants only a negligible amount of money to make these additional meals. If every restaurant can do something similar, together we will be able to feed a whole lot of people.”

Ahmed said that the wish to feed other people was ingrained in him as part of his culture. “The Emirati culture is all about feeding other people. Most of the local families cook large amounts of food to distribute. You will see long lines in front of the homes of traditional Emirati family homes of people waiting for food. That is just part of our DNA.”

He said that some people have questioned why he posted the video on social media. “In our religion, it is believed that you should give secretly,” he said. “However, I believe that sometimes you need to show other people what you are doing so that they can derive inspiration from it and do similar acts of goodness. I cannot reach all the hungry people. If people get inspired by what I do, then we can multiply the number of people we collectively reach.”


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