Dubai volunteers stock fridges for city's needy in Ramadan

A scheme launched by a Dubai resident to share free food and drink with the emirate’s low-income workers has become a citywide phenomenon

When Fikra Yel decided in 2014 to place a spare fridge outside her house to provide free food and drink for low-income workers in her Dubai community, she couldn’t have imagined the phenomenon that would follow.

Four years on, her act has given rise to a citywide network of public fridges, which cater to tens of thousands of Dubai's blue-collar workers during the holy month of Ramadan.

“The whole idea behind Ramadan Sharing Fridges was teaching our children to be aware and to think of other people,” says Yel today. “And the best way to do that is with the people around you.”

With a Facebook group of more than 30,000 members and 200 fridges in locations all over the city, the scheme has brought together all sections of the community in conversation.

Volunteer-run fridges in industrial areas, homes and communities are stocked daily with drinks, laban, fruit, vegetables and dry foods, donated by sponsors and members of the public.

Though the initiative was devised to support Muslim workers fasting from dusk to dawn during Ramadan, it has become a tool to unite the wider community, says Yel.

“It’s not just about filling up the fridge and sharing food,” she explains. “It’s about meeting the people who come to the fridge, giving the time to connect with them and making them feel recognised.”