Dubai-UAE: 19 March 2017 - Awqaf & Minors Affairs Foundation (AMAF) will showcase the achievements of its acclaimed salma Humanitarian Relief Program that supports the world's most vulnerable people by providing them pre-packed halal meals that do not require cooking or refrigeration and can be stored and used over an extended period of time, as part of its outing at the 14th edition of the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development Conference & Exhibition (DIHAD 2017).
Set to run at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre from March 21 to 23, AMAF's stand at the definitive event will offer visitors detailed insights into the program's efforts at ensuring continued food relief to victims of wars and natural disasters in the world's hot-spots, without discrimination based on race, color or region. Volunteers and officials will elaborate on the underlying ideas, aid delivery strategies, and salma's partner agencies that help with the food distribution. Leaflets highlighting the statistics and results over the three years of its operations will also be provided.
Over the last three years, the salma Humanitarian Relief Program, an initiative launched by Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre and implemented Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation (AMAF) in Dubai, has provided more than 455,000 halal meals and distributed 50 tons of meat to victims of wars, crises and natural disasters around the world – this included 200,000 meals to Palestine, 70,200 to Yemen, 63,000 to Tajikistan, 61,600 meals and 50 tons of meat to Jordan, 41,400 meals to west African countries, 12,400 meals to Sudan, and 7,000 meals to the Philippines.
Comprising meat, rice and vegetables, each 200 grams pre-packed meal pack meets the daily nutritional and energy requirements of individuals. Only halal meat produced in cooperation with the best sharia-compliant meat processing plants in New Zealand under the supervision of Awqaf New Zealand, is used in these food parcels that are suitable for all age groups, including children and older people.
For public safety purposes, the meals are packaged in plastic bags made in South Korea using high-quality packaging technologies developed by NASA. These tightly sealed bags can withstand extreme conditions as they are smaller, cheaper and lighter than cans and can therefore be easily transported and delivered. Furthermore, they are resistant to pressure, heat and moisture and can store food without refrigeration for up to three years without affecting the quality or taste of the food.
Since the launch of the salma Humanitarian Relief Program in July 2014 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in cooperation with the UAE Red Crescent Authority, UN World Food Program, Dubai Charity Association, the program has gained acclaim as a landmark effort that positively impacts the lives of a significant number of people in need. Drawing the logistical support of Dubai's International Humanitarian City, the program is aligned with the sustainable and humanitarian principles of the Dubai: Capital of Islamic Economy initiative.
His Excellency Tayeb Abdulrahman Al-Rais, Secretary General of Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation, said: “Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development Conference & Exhibition (DIHAD) is one of the most important events for relief, charity and humanitarian work in the world. The event is marking its 14th edition in 2017, clearly reinforcing the priority accorded to charity work in Dubai and the wider UAE. The event will highlight the country's role in empowering and mobilizing charitable and humanitarian institutions and organizations and extending their reach to develop aid initiatives that can reach the largest possible number of people in need.”
Speaking about AMAF's showcase this year, Al-Rais revealed that in addition to providing meals, the salma program is planning to establish and operate a halal food supply chain that can be activated whenever and wherever disasters or humanitarian crises occur. He noted that with the support and active cooperation of several international agencies and organizations, salma has succeeded in raising more than AED12 million in donations and revenue. Part of this amount was used for preparing and distributing more than 455,000meals to alleviate the suffering of people affected by various disasters.
The AMAF Secretary General added: “It is important to point out that the program achieves several developmental goals - including enhancing food security, eliminating poverty and hunger in the world, minimizing wastage in food aid and protecting those affected by crises from malnourishment due to a lack of access to fresh water and cooking supplies.”
Financially therefore, the second stage of the project provides a dual source of income – from the donations and from recycling profits. This process is repeated until the project reaches an advanced stage of financial independence, at which point donations supplement and strengthen the program – expanding its reach to include even more beneficiaries and help them survive disasters and conflicts without the risk of starvation.
Abdul Wahab Soufan, Director, salma Humanitarian Relief Program, said: “With a three-year shelf life, the meals we distribute as part of the salma program do not require to be cooked, do not require consumers to be literate to know their ingredients are halal and therefore have gained the confidence of Muslim populations affected by conflicts and disasters who earlier used to refuse meals provided by relief organizations as they were not halal.”
Soufan added: “Meeting best-in-class international food quality standards, our halal meals are subject to strict production controls that make them among the healthiest products worldwide. Distribution priorities, in case of several disasters taking place at the same time, are determined in coordination with official international and local relief organizations and the Emirates Red Crescent.”
The salma Humanitarian Relief Program benefits from the standing of Dubai and the wider UAE as a leading center for international halal food industries through providing halal food as emergency assistance in a unique and sustainable manner that reflects the UAE's mandate to build bridges of love and cooperation among the nations of the world.
To ensure its sustainability and expand its scope and reach, the salma Humanitarian Relief Program has over the last three years, ratified several memorandums of understanding and cooperation with leading local and international institutions. Among the most important ones are the agreement with the UN World Food Program, International Humanitarian City in Dubai, Awqaf USA, Awqaf New Zealand, National Awqaf Foundation of Canada (Awqaf Canada), International Medical Corps in the UK and the agreement with the Smart Dubai Government Establishment to use e-payment services to facilitate donations to the program.
Furthermore, the program recently increased its cooperation with its key partners including the Emirates Red Crescent, UN World Food Program, International Humanitarian City in Dubai, Dubai charity association and Awqaf New Zealand. These successful partnerships helped enhance the program's reach to cover wider groups of beneficiaries, provide all their food needs and support them in various ways. The synergies also helped to improve quality standards regarding the provision and timely delivery of meals.
Since its launch, the salma program has received the endorsement of government entities and private companies – while some have participated in raising funds for the program, others have organized special campaigns to support the program and its goals. Some of the important companies that have partnered with salma include Dubai Cable Manufacturing Company (DUCAB), Emirates Islamic Bank, MasterCard, Emaar Malls, Choithrams, and Union Coop in Dubai.
The salma Humanitarian Relief Program has won several important regional and international awards for its excellence in the distribution of food aid. Significant ones include the 2014 Islamic Economy Award for Health and Food, and the 2015 Dubai Lynx Award for the Best Design of Food Containers. The program also won three other awards in the 5th edition of the Chief Marketing Officer Council (CMO Asia) awards for best socially responsible practices of companies in Asia in 2015.
In line with the Year of Giving initiative, all individuals and establishments in the UAE subscribed to Etisalat or Du, seeking to donate funds to the salma Humanitarian Relief Program to help provide aid to more people in need, can send an SMS with the word ‘salma' to the following numbers: (7710) for AED10, (7750) for AED50 and (3100) for AED100. They can also donate via the account of Awqaf and Minor Affairs Foundation in Dubai, via the Dubai Islamic Bank account number: 001-9451498-520-01, or via Noor Bank account number 0014666660014.
The program was named Salma to honor the memory of the Emirati nurse Salma Al Sharhaan (1934-2014) who dedicated her life to supporting and helping those in need through her work in the rural areas of the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. The salma Humanitarian Relief Program reflects the high human values embodied by Al Sharhaan throughout her life, as well as the positive values of the UAE's peace-loving culture that has made it one of the biggest aid providers in the world.