Watch: YouTuber locks himself in glass box in Dubai to raise $10 million for charity

AboFlah will raise funds to bring warmth to 100,000 refugee families in Africa and the Middle East this winter



KT photo/Neeraj Murali
KT photo/Neeraj Murali
by

Sherouk Zakaria

Published: Sat 8 Jan 2022, 6:07 PM

Last updated: Sat 8 Jan 2022, 11:47 PM

At the centre of Burj Park in Downtown Dubai stands a cube-shaped glass box. This will be the home of YouTube star AboFlah until he raises a staggering $10 million (Dh36.7 million) to bring warmth to 100,000 refugee families in Africa and the Middle East this winter.

Speaking to Khaleej Times from a window in the box, the energetic AboFlah, whose real name is Hassan Suleiman, carries a sense of enthusiasm unfamiliar to the restrained. He explains that it is the feeling that he’s aiding thousands in the region to find warmth in the face of the harsh winter conditions that drives him.

“I think I will be staying here for 2-3 weeks until we raise the $10 million, so I need all the motivation I can get from people!” he laughs as he describes the shock of onlookers and passersby who see behind the glass cube before cheering him on.

On the first day behind the glass box, he has raised over $370,000 as donations continue to pour in from different parts of the world.

“Some people are bringing me flowers. A young man just brought a blanket, and offered to stay outside the cage until we raise the full amount. Such gestures keep me going,” said the YouTuber, who’s been calling the UAE home since the last month.

KT photo/Neeraj Murali
KT photo/Neeraj Murali

He added, “We are receiving funds from tens of donors per second from the US, Sweden and all the way to the North Pole. This is the goal – to use the power of the internet to bring in support for people in the region from the other end of the world and unite them for a good cause.”

AboFlah's stunt is part of the Warm Winter initiative, launched under the 2nd edition of World’s Coolest Winter campaign, that aims to encourage people to enjoy the UAE’s pleasant winter with the reminder that thousands of families across the world lack this privilege.

The raised amount of the initiative, launched by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives in collaboration with Galaxy Racer, will go towards providing food, winter clothing, blankets, mattresses and critical aid to refugees in Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon and vulnerable individuals in Syria and Egypt.

The distribution will be carried out with the support of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Food Banking Regional Network.

KT photo/Neeraj Murali
KT photo/Neeraj Murali

Faith in humanity

For AboFlah, who is not a stranger to humanitarian initiatives, it is all about giving back. He has been adamant on using his YouTube fame among over 22.9 million subscribers for good causes.

“With all the success and fame I have gained, the least I can do is give back. It is other people who are suffering and not enjoying winter as much as we are. I hope the initiative plays a small part in bringing them comfort. We want to make their winter more beautiful,” he said.

AboFlah keeps raising the bar. In October 2021, he raised $1 million (Dh3.67 million) during a 28-hour live broadcast that garnered over 28 million total views to support refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq in coordination with UNHCR. The goal today is to raise 10 times more.

KT photo/Neeraj Murali
KT photo/Neeraj Murali

"I am very optimistic, because there’s a lot of good in this world. Many people want to help and they just need to find the channel. We are here today to provide this channel.”

The YouTuber, famous for his vlogs, comedy shorts and formatted shows covering video games and popular culture, urges people to use social media for a good cause.

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"Even if you cannot donate, raise awareness. Encourage others to donate," he said.

His stay in the glass box is being live-streamed on his YouTube channel.

People from all over the world can donate to the Warm Winter initiative on MBRGI.ae/WarmWinter.

sherouk@khaleejtimes.com


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