Watch: YouTube star raises $11 million for charity after 12 days of living in glass box in Dubai

The initiative aimed to support 100,000 families as part of the UAE’s Warm Winter initiative.


Sherouk Zakaria

Published: Wed 19 Jan 2022, 9:11 AM

Last updated: Thu 20 Jan 2022, 11:18 AM

YouTube star AboFlah raised a whopping $11 million (Dh40.4 million) after 12 days of living in a glass box at Burj Park in Downtown Dubai to bring warmth to over 110,000 families in the region this winter.

AboFlah walked free from his glass box to a cheering crowd in a grand celebration on Wednesday midnight in Downtown Dubai, where he has been locked up since January 7, after exceeding his initial $10 million (Dh36.7 million) goal that aimed to support 100,000 families as part of the UAE’s Warm Winter initiative, held under the 2nd edition of World’s Coolest Winter campaign.

Livestreaming his experience to over 23.7 million YouTube subscribers, AboFlah succeeded in attracting 154,789 donors from all over the world to raise $11 million that will help provide food, winter clothing, blankets, mattresses and critical aid to 110,461 refugee families in Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon and vulnerable individuals in Syria and Egypt.

“We have learned that nothing is impossible, especially in the UAE,” said AboFlah who broke two world records as part of the initiative for the longest live-stream video, which lasted 268 hours, 14 minutes and 20 seconds, and for the most viewers for a livestream charity donation on YouTube with over 689,000 concurrent views. The initiative garnered a total of 163 million views on YouTube.

AboFlah's multiple victories were a subject of celebration broadcasted on Burj Khalifa and cheered on by hundreds of attendees at Burj Park in Downtown Dubai and thousands of online viewers. He beat the current longest live-stream (video), at 259 hours, 46 minutes and 45 seconds, which is held by Chongqing Changan Automobile Co in China.

There is no record holder for the most viewers watching a livestream charity donation, but the minimum requirement is 300,000 concurrent views. AboFlah’s efforts will lead to new records in both fields after they have been independently verified.

“I always say there’s a lot of good in this world, and today proves exactly that. Humanitarian work brings us closer and brings out the best in all of us. I’m very humbled. Together, we lift each other up,” said the YouTuber, who’s been calling the UAE home since last month.

In a previous interview with Khaleej Times, AboFlah, whose real name is Hassan Suleiman, said he had expected to stay locked for 2-3 weeks until he raises the targeted amount.

Vowing to remain until he reaches his target, he noted that the kind gestures of onlookers and passersby and the support of the millions of his subscribers provided him with the energy to keep going.

Flood of donations

The Warm Winter initiative, launched by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives in collaboration with Galaxy Racer, attracted donations from people from all over the world, alongside prominent UAE businessmen, social groups and charity organizations.

The Emirates Red Crescent donated $1.1 million, Dar Al Ber Society dedicated $1.01 million and the UAE Food Bank contributed $1 million. Businessman Ahmed Mohammed Khalaf Al Habtoor donated Dh400,000, Suhail Al Hashimi donated Dh100,000 and businesswoman Khulood Al Maleh contributed Dh140,000.

The distribution of winter aid for the beneficiaries across Africa and the Middle East will be carried out with the support of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Food Banking Regional Network.

AboFlah is no stranger to humanitarian work. In October 2021, he raised $1 million (Dh3.67 million) during a 28-hour live broadcast to provide urgent winter aid for 5,715 families (over 17,000 refugees) in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq in coordination with UNHCR.


Vowing to continue his humanitarian endeavors, he said, “My life is filled with blessings, and the least I can do is give back. There’s a lot of people in need for our help, and I hope this initiative plays a small part in bringing comfort to people facing harsh winter conditions,” he said.

He stressed his commitment to using the power of the internet to improve the lives of vulnerable people in the region and unite viewers from all over the world towards good cause.

Galaxy Racer Founder and CEO, Paul Roy said: “We are amazed and grateful by the immense generosity shown by the fans, community and the general public. Raising over $11 million is no easy task and we’re glad to be part of this humanitarian initiative which will positively impact the affected 100,000 refugees. Smashing two Guinness World Records is impressive and a testament to the resilience shown by AboFlah, the Galaxy Racer team, together with our partners MBRGI, UNHCR and the Food Banking Regional Network. We thank you everyone for participating in this record-breaking charity initiative."

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