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How Qatari charities are working to aid the less fortunate

How Qatari charities are working to aid the less fortunate
Copyright euronews
Copyright euronews
By Aadel Haleem and Laila Humairah
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What better time to remember those less fortunate than during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Fresh from hosting the hugely successful FIFA World Cup, Qatar is hoping to keep the goodwill going.

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What better time to remember those less fortunate than during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Fresh from hosting the hugely successful FIFA World Cup, Qatar is hoping to keep the goodwill going.

A global stage for modest wear

Waad Mohamad's speciality is customized abaya designs. And when just days before the World Cup final, the 974 Stadium hosted one of the biggest fashion shows in the world, it was her big break. One of her pieces featured in Qatar Fashion United by CR Runway. It was also for a charitable cause.

"I feel honoured to have been chosen to be part of this fashion show with such an eclectic collection of designers," she says. "And people from all over the world are going to be witnessing this fashion show and seeing our designs."

Her fashion house WAADdesigns was born in 2010, more of necessity than choice.

"I was a young graduate," she recalls. "Fresh out of college and I wanted a job opportunity that I wasn’t able to get. So, I created my own."

Stephane Feuger
Waad Mohammad, WAADdesignsStephane Feuger

Her concept is to put a modern twist on a traditional garment.

"I design abayas which is the traditional wear which is similar to the piece I’m wearing," she explains. "I get my inspiration from anything and everything around me, literally. Whether I see someone in a nice dress, wearing a nice cut, I try my best to kind of transform this into a more modest wear."

Modest, but ready to showcase her talent on a world stage.

The CR Runway show was an intersection of fashion, music, culture and sports. It featured the works of 150 designers from six continents and more than 50 countries. That included 21 Qatar-based designers, many showcasing their work on a global stage for the first time.

They're helped by M7: Qatar’s fashion, design and innovation hub. It opened in 2020 to establish an ecosystem for designers, to incubate and scale-up their businesses.

One of the really important aspects is to showcase our heritage, our culture and to share everyone else’s heritage and culture. And what better way to do it than in fashion.
Maha Al Sulaiti
Director, M7 Design & Technology Museum

"What’s important is to understand the business side of what they do," says Maha Al Sulaiti, Director, M7 Design & Technology Museum. "I think it’s not enough to be talented, it’s not enough to be able to create something. But to survive, they really need to be able to sell their product.

"One of the really important aspects is to showcase our heritage, our culture and to share everyone else’s heritage and culture. And what better way to do it than in fashion, where it’s a common language that we can all speak and we can appreciate each other’s different backgrounds. "

Raising funds for education

And what better way to celebrate differences than by showcasing local designers at an event literally the size of a football stadium. It raised funds in support of

Education Above All, the Qatar-based non-profit organization supporting millions of children in 59 countries.

"EAA is now over ten years old and it’s absolutely forensically committed to protecting access to the right to quality education for the most marginalized people all over the world," says Maleiha Malik, Programme Director for Education Above All.

EAA estimates there are around 60 million out-of-school children in the world. And that number is far too great for the non-profit organization to ignore.

"I think what stands out, and why we’re the perfect organization for this fashion show, is we’re global," she says. "So, we ensure that all children everywhere, irrespective of characteristics such as race, religion or ethnicity, are treated as unique, important individuals who have the potential to really shine and we believe education is the key to that."

The proceeds from the fashion show will go to a number of different countries, ranging from Tanzania and Somalia all the way to Cambodia and Myanmar and to projects in Afghanistan and Gaza. A perfect fit, in line with WAADdesign’s vision.

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"At the end of every year, we do a charity event," says Waad. "Like it ticked all the boxes. Literally, this fashion show ticked all the boxes for me."

It also ticked all the boxes for the 20,000 plus in attendance for the sold-out show that transcended borders.

Aiding devastated Türkiye

The United Nations says damages from the devastating earthquakes that struck Türkiye and northern Syria will exceed €90 billion. Soon after the first tremors were felt, the Qatar Red Crescent Society quickly mobilized to provide humanitarian aid to the region.

On the sidelines of the 5th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, held recently in Doha, Fatima Abdeen, Qatar Red Crescent’s Disaster Response Specialist, explained how the organization responded to the catastrophic natural disaster.

"The Qatar Red Crescent's main goal is localization and how important it is for local people to take part in the projects in their countries," she said. "Why? Because in times of crisis, the first people who are responders are the local people. And if we as an aid organization, we will have to leave the country, the local people will be the one who will be continuing the project and will take over the distribution of items or for the long sustainable development of their own country."

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Those principles were applied in Turkiye and Syria following the recent earthquakes.

"Firstly, the Qatar Red Crescent operated the disaster management centre, formation centre," says Fatima. "Where people and volunteers gathered information about the crisis and what happened with the earthquake and how many people have been affected. And after that, immediately our team - the field team that is in Turkey and Syria - has been assessing the needs for the people and they have been distributing relief aid for the people there. And then, Qatar Red Crescent headquarters has been allocated 2 million US dollar for the people, to provide them with aid.

Qatar Red Crescent Society
Volunteers, Qatar Red Crescent SocietyQatar Red Crescent Society

The Qatar Red Crescent is a large organization.

"Currently, we have 27,000 volunteers in Qatar," says Fatima. "And they had an amazing role in Covid-19, where they had to manage some of the camps for the people that were quarantined. And also they are very well-trained and they came from different backgrounds, different experiences, and they are helping in many crisis events, distributing items in Qatar or even outside Qatar."

The Qatar Red Crescent recently completed the 9th Disaster Management camp  in Al Khor.

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"This camp actually help and train the volunteers to improve their skills and crisis management and empower them to be able how to manage crisis and to be able to be deployed immediately in time of emergencies," says Fatima.

Never let the poor go hungry

The practice of fasting from dawn to sunset during Ramadan largely symbolizes the struggle of those less fortunate, who may have little or nothing to eat. The fasting month is also a strong reminder to never let the poor go hungry. That’s been the goal of what’s become the flagship Ramadan initiative of Qatar’s largest charity.

Euronews screenshot
Chef Abdullah Al MarzoukiEuronews screenshot

Chef Abdullah Al Marzouki and his team of assistants prepare iftar meals for those in need as part of Qatar Charity’s Charity Kitchen initiative. These meals are cooked fresh every day during Ramadan and delivered to the less fortunate.

Iftar is the meal that breaks a day of fasting, and it’s traditionally a big spread of different dishes. And Qatar Charity believes that everyone should enjoy a meal to break their fast, even if they can’t afford it. This is the fifth year Chef Abdullah’s been involved in Charity Kitchen and he wants to continue cooking for a cause for as long as needed.

"I am cooking deeply from my heart because the reason is first for the religion," he says. "This is my message: all the people are equal. Treat the people the way that you want to be treated. And especially in Ramadan, this is our message, which is, showing our willingness to give, show our personality, our humanity by feeding the people."

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People donate the ingredients for food, and that's giving an opportunity for people to donate what they love because it's a value in our religion also.
Fatima Al Mohannadi
Director of Local Programs and Community Development, Qatar Charity

Once the food has been prepared, the volunteers help pack it into individual meals, ready to be delivered. On the menu tonight is a mix of traditional Arabic and Asian dishes, with the ingredients as special as the cause.

"People donate the ingredients for food, and that's giving an opportunity for people to donate what they love because it's a value in our religion also," says Fatima Al Mohannadi, Director of Local Programs and Community Development at Qatar Charity. "The kitchen that we had contracted with is actually a home-based business to really prepare the meals based on the ingredients we have and distribute them by volunteers to the door of the family that needs those iftar meals. "

Ramadan is usually the busiest month of the year for Qatar Charity, packed with outreach and support programs for the community. Initiatives like these promote volunteering and encourage the act of giving among the public, especially during the holy month.

"Every day we have to come here to collect the meals," says volunteer Sara Adel Abdulaziz. "After that, we have to distribute it to 12 families."

"I feel very well because I have this kind of a chance to help people," says volunteer Mohamed Mamdouh Adawy. "They are so grateful for what we did and they’re also praying for us and our families."

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Qatar Charity runs a number of programmes designed not only to retain the volunteers they have, but also helping them develop valuable skills, like leadership training, humanitarian work and project management. And the charity believes it’s never too early to start volunteering.

"We are empowering youth to take part to give back to the community," says Fatima. "And we know how important it is to give back to the community. The main motto actually in this is really to help youth to feel the contribution. It’s about really their self-actualization and fuelling their values within the society."

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