In 2015, the UAE implemented the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI) with the aim of adopting a “culture of hope”. This was to be developed through various programmes, campaigns, projects and activities to improve the quality of life in different sections of society. One of the pillars of this initiative is to provide ‘Humanitarian Aid and Relief’. This does not only seek to provide urgent aid and emergency relief to communities affected by several crises but also seeks to implement development plans and projects to improve the lives of vulnerable communities. One of the campaigns launched in mid-April 2020 under the MBRGI in collaboration with the Community Solidarity Fund Against Covid-19 was the 10 Million Meals initiative.
Led by Her Highness Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum, the 10 Million Meals initiative was started with the aim of providing food to low-income families and those communities severely affected by the ongoing pandemic during the season of Ramadan. She stated that the initiative was a practical humanitarian response to the pandemic considering its adverse effects on the economy with respect to a large number of people ending up unemployed or with an income reduction. One of the core ideas behind this initiative, according to Her Highness Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum, was to bring the community together to support the vulnerable against the pandemic.
Although the target was to reach out to 10 million people, the number of food contributions produced meals amounting up to 15.3 million by the time this initiative concluded on the 15th of May 2020. The initiative brought together over 100,000 participants from 115 nationalities to sponsor and provide food and more than 1,000 volunteers to distribute it.
Meals Secured through Various Sources. Data taken from Khaleej Times.
Out of all the donations provided by various individuals and organisations, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment secured the most meals (3.62 million meals), donating Dirhams 29 million towards this initiative. In collaboration with the Burj Khalifa, the MBRGI launched the World’s Tallest Donation Box initiative during Ramadan. This initiative, which went viral on social media, enabled people to buy Burj Khalifa lights each worth Dirhams 10 to help provide meals, securing an additional 1.2 million meals in less than a week. In order to ensure the swift and efficient delivery of meals across the country, the MBRGI along with the Community Solidarity Fund Against Covid-19 collaborated with partnering entities to develop a logistical distribution network. The teams of the campaign were assigned different roles in catering, packaging, transportation, sterilisation, etc.
Her Highness Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum commended the positive response to this initiative, stating that the massive amount of contributions collected within a remarkably short amount of time shows corporate social responsibility and the solidarity of UAE society. Earlier in October, she was awarded the Arab Woman Award for humanitarian work and was named the Humanitarian of the Year 2020.
The campaign won six Cresta Awards in creativity and innovation for the World’s Tallest Donation Box. Out of these, the initiative earned one of the gold Cresta awards for digital design, two silver awards in two categories (campaign websites and microsites, and integrated digital campaigns), and three bronze awards in healthcare. It also secured five wins in five categories of the SHORTY Social Good Awards: Best Emergency Relief, Best Work for Hunger & Poverty Relief, Best Work in Government and Politics, Best Data Visualisation and a gold award in the Best in Real-Time Response. The World’s Tallest Donation Box was also shortlisted for the Middle East Public Relations Association’s (MEPRA) Best Campaign in the Middle East in 2020.
The 10 Million Meals campaign has portrayed the values of compassion and kindness that the country feels towards those in need during the rough period of the pandemic. Initiatives taken by the UAE government during the course of the pandemic have proved to be a huge success for the country and the 10 Million Meals initiative is one of these accomplishments that has earned the UAE its well-deserved international recognition.
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives <<https://www.almaktouminitiatives.org/en/who-we-are>>
Government of Dubai, Islamic Affairs & Charitable Activities Department <<https://www.iacad.gov.ae/en/Media/Pages/AgainstCovid-19.aspx>>
United Nations Organisation, ‘United Nations COVID-19 Socio-Economic Analysis for the United Arab Emirates’ (Sep 2020)