DUBAI: The tallest building in the world, Dubai’s 828-meter Burj Khalifa, has become a sparkling charity donation box, raising money for food to citizens of the United Arab Emirates suffering from the economic effects of the latest coronavirus pandemic.
Each of the 1.2 million external lights on the tower had been ‘sold’ for 10 dirhams ($2.70), enough to buy one meal. The tower ‘filled up’ as donations came in, and people could also bid to claim the light at the very top.
As the tourism and business center for the country with the busiest international airport in the world, the coronavirus pandemic has struck Dubai ‘s economy hard.
Most people lost jobs, or reduced salaries. Tens of thousands of migrant workers have registered to be repatriated and often stay in cramped shared quarters where the virus spreads more easily.
“Hope you have a good solid meal. We take things for granted but life has a way of teaching us how to wake up,” said donor Shereen Harris in a public comment on the website of the campaign.
The UAE has reported 19,661 cases of COVID-19 infection and 203 deaths, the second highest death toll in the six Gulf states after Saudi Arabia.
The donation box has so far raised funds for over 1.2 million meals, said The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI) organizing body.
The fundraising drive is part of a campaign MBRGI funded by Dubai’s ruler and UAE vice president Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to fund 10 million meals for low-income families during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.