Fighting Covid-19: Meet the heroes who work for others in UAE

Dhanusha Gokulan, Ashwani Kumar and Saman Haziq
Filed on April 18, 2020
coronavirus , Wuhan, Covid-19, China, warning, travel, Coronavirus outbreak, lockdown, pandemic, Combating coronavirus

Here are some of the most inspiring stories.

The UAE has launched an integrated, multi-faceted and scientific battle against an invisible enemy.

In an unprecedented manner, doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals and local authorities have been working seven days a week, night and day to eradicate the Covid-19 threat.

However, aiding the local heroes, several community groups, charities, businesses and individuals have banded together to ensure that every individual gets easy access to food and sanitisation products.

These heroes have been doing an exemplary job to ensure that no one suffers. Here are some of the most inspiring stories:

Support for workers

Workers at accommodations across the country are being screened twice a day as part of the precautionary measures taken by the UAE to curb the spread of coronavirus according to a ministerial resolution issued on March 29.

"The resolution number 281 issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation stated that screening points at entrances of labour accommodations must be provided," said Emirati lawyer Awatif Mohammed Khouri of Al Rowaad Advocates.

"This move is to check the temperature and other symptoms of the virus twice a day - in the morning before workers leave, and once again upon their return to the accommodation," Khouri noted.

Other measures including sufficient distance between workers in cafeterias and transport facilities are also being enforced to ensure their safety. Furthermore, healthcare provider Right Health and Al Futtaim Health's HealthHub are in the process of screening 50,000 workers this month.

Digital support

A mobile app for labourers, 'Smart Labour', which has over 50,000 blue-collar workers registered, has started a free special course that is delivered in three languages: English, Urdu and Hindi. Using the app, workers can also report Covid-19 incidents via a simple voice note in any language.

Abu Muadh, founder of Smart Labour, said: "Blue-collar workers make up almost half our workforce. Digitally enabling them means digitally enabling half of our workforce and in this case, it will be digitally enabling a new audience. This will definitely impact the UAE's ranking in the global indices linked to digital transformation, smart cities, innovation and the likes."

Box of Hope

Box of Hope, a community initiative started by Harmeek Singh, a Dubai-based businessman, has teamed up with the Dubai Municipality, UAE Food Bank and other humanitarian and charitable organisations, to provide free meal boxes to the labour camps of quarantined blue-collar workers.

Singh, founder and CEO of Plan B Group, said: "It is important for us to stand by each other and do the best we can. In these trying times, it is important for us as residents of the UAE, regardless of where we come from, to stand together and create a more humane environment."

Emirati lawyer and Box of Hope founding member, Joslin Khairallah, said: "I believe that at the start, Box of Hope gave positive energy to many workers by working hand by hand to make them aware about their legal rights and legal procedures. The main objective is to always try to make people feel like they are not alone, and that we are supporting them."

130,000 meals distributed

The Dar Al Ber Society has distributed over 130,000 meals to the labourers at various labour accommodations around the UAE.

The society had formed a task force to identify the labourers who are facing food shortage due to the coronavirus outbreak and has been delivering meal packets for breakfast, lunch and dinner to the labourers.

The labourers are receiving vegetarian or non-vegetarian food based on their requirement.

The society has also been distributing hygiene kits consisting of sanitisers, masks, soaps, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc.

The Dar Al Ber Society has already distributed over 15,000 sanitisers, soaps, etc. Anyone who would like to contribute to the society's initiatives can contact

Restaurants, caterers donate free food

Four popular Pakistani restaurants in Dubai have teamed up to provide meals for the needy in the wake of Covid-19. The initiative called Rizq - Centre for Hope was launched under the slogan "no one sleeps hungry".

After receiving a number of calls from people affected directly or indirectly by the Covid-19 situation, such as those on visit visas or people who lost their jobs or did not receive salaries, friends and owners of four restaurants - Bhaijaans Biryani, Delhi Nihari, Delicacy Bakers and Sweets and Mumtaz Darbar - teamed up to provide free meals to people in need.

In another initiative, Cloud kitchen Kitopi has tied up with food and grocery delivery platform Talabat to distribute 20,000 meals to people in need. The concept of a cloud kitchen is that it cooks on behalf of restaurants and help them expand their delivery reach. While Kitopi is responsible for cooking and safely packaging 1,000 meals daily, Talabat is delivering it to the communities.

KMCC relief efforts

Volunteers from the Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre, both women and men, are working night and day to help the needy, in coordination with local authorities. They have helped residents in Naif, Al Ras, Palm Deira and nearby areas.

"We are a team of 300 volunteers, who are distributing freshly-made food packets and kits to various localities and families in quarantine. In Naif alone, we are distributing 30,000 hot food packets every day. Since the end of March, we have distributed 5,000 food kits," said Adv Ibrahim Khaleel, secretary and legal centre chairman of the Dubai chapter of KMCC.

If the Dubai chapter has done an exemplary work, its counterpart in Abu Dhabi is not far behind. Social workers in Abu Dhabi distribute around 500 to 600 food kits twice a day in buildings surrounding Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre and Electra Street in Abu Dhabi.

"We have been distributing cooked food from restaurants to people in quarantine and those in low-income bracket for last 18 days," Abdul Rehman Povval, KMCC Abu Dhabi, Kasaragod chapter, said. "Also, up to 20 tonnes of kit with basic essentials like rice, vegetables, spices, cooking oil etc are provided as per need. The kit will have essentials for five, 10 or more people depending on how many are present in a room or flat. We have a database of people and serve people of different nationalities as per requirement."

The service is done in coordination with the KMCC Abu Dhabi state committee president Shukoorali Kallungal and team from Indian Islamic Centre Abu Dhabi.

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