Feeding others and combating hunger is one of the most deeply entrenched traditions in the Arab Peninsula from pre-Islamic times. Quranic verses and Islamic teachers later reaffirmed this practice, and it is now considered among the most commended philanthropic and social solidarity practices to influence philanthropic giving in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the Muslim world at large.

With several Quranic verses and Prophet Muhammed (PBUH)’s Hadiths encouraging this practice, special emphasis was given to feeding the poor during the Holy Month of Ramadan. This practice can be seen in the mushrooming of the charitable giving and social solidarity initiatives of both individual and institutional donors in the GCC, transcending social, ethnic, and geographical boundaries. Stressing its sustainability, it is religiously classified as running a voluntary charity (Sadaqah Jariyya).

Inspired by this deeply embedded Islamic ritual and Arabian tradition of feeding others, Mohammed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum Global Initiatives launched the ‘1 Billion Meals Endowment’ campaign in Ramadan 2023. It seeks to raise funds for a value of AED 1 billion to set up the biggest sustainable food endowment worldwide.

Initiated by the ruler of Dubai, the campaign reflects the Emirate’s humanitarian aid approach that institutionalizes sustainable solutions to developmental challenges. It builds on the previously organized Ramadan campaigns of ‘10 Million Meals’, ‘100 Million Meals’ and ‘1Billion Meals’ in 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively. While the earliest campaign focused on the UAE by alleviating the impact of the outbreak of COVID-19 and its lockdown, the food campaign expanded regionally in 2021 to cover the disadvantaged in more than twenty Arab, Asian, and African countries. The Ramadan 2022 campaign targeted the distribution of 1 billion Meals in about fifty countries worldwide.

With direct alignment with SDG 2 (erasing hunger and achieving food security) and clearly overlapping with other goals such as SDG3 (establishing good health and wellbeing) and SDG 17 (partnerships), the campaign sets itself apart from others in terms of its ambitious global scale, its sustainability and multi-stakeholder partnership approach.

Dr. Moez El Shohdi, the President & Chief Executive Officer of the Food Banking Regional Network described the campaign as ‘a unique and brilliant idea, it serves many of the SDGs to help ensure a better future and a better life.’

Channeling wealth towards philanthropic giving is not new to this region, but the investment of wealth from diverse sources of giving towards providing a food safety net for vulnerable communities and addressing food security in the most nutritionally insecure regions is a huge undertaking. In a globalized world with complex and mushrooming challenges, the 17th goal of the SDGs encourages working on partnerships to reach the UN goals.

Read the full article about global food security by Riham Khafagy at Alliance Magazine.