In wealthy Dubai, poor get free bread from machines

DUBAI: With Cost of living surge, free hot distribute bread to the poor was introduced in Dubaia wealthy Gulf emirate, where millionaires compete with hard-working migrants.
The city of soaring skyscrapers in the desert, which imports almost all of its food, has been hit by rapidly rising consumer prices, a global trend exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. .
Ten vending machines were installed last week in supermarkets, with computer touch screens allowing people to choose different types: sandwiches, pitta sandwiches or flat Indian chapatis .
The machine has a credit card reader – for non-payment donations.
“A friend told me that there is free bread“So I came,” said Bigandar, a young man from Nepal who works at a car wash, not wanting to give his name.
Like millions of Asian migrants, he dreams of getting rich in the United Arab Emirates.
He went to Dubai, a city famous for consumption and excess.
According to government data from the Dubai Statistics Center, the food price index, which tracks the monthly change in the cost of a basket of food commodities, increased by 8.75% in July year-on-year. last year.
Transportation costs have increased by more than 38%.
The bread machine is the initiative of the foundation founded by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.
Fund director, Zeinab Joumaa al-Tamimi, said: “The idea is to reach disadvantaged families and workers before they come to us.
Now, anyone in need can get hot bread at the touch of a “button,” she said.
The oil-rich UAE has a population of nearly 10 million people, 90% are foreigners, many workers from Asia and Africa.
Dubai, the commercial hub of the UAE, relies on this army of workers to build skyscrapers and for the service sector, from real estate to luxury travel, for which it has built its reputation. .
Bigandar, who has worked there for the past three years, says that for every car he cleans, he earns three dirhams, or 81 US cents.
Working hard and with tips from clients, he can earn between 700 and 1,000 dirhams per month ($190-270).
“My employer covers housing and transportation, but not food,” he said.
In a sign of the growing difficulties migrant workers face, a rare strike occurred in May as delivery drivers demanded higher wages amid fuel prices. whether increase.
In July, authorities announced a doubling of social aid, but only for a small number of Emirati families earning less than 25,000 dirhams a month ($6,800), which are considered single-family homes. difficult.
This aid program does not include foreigners.
Fadi Alrasheed, a Jordanian businessman who has lived in Dubai, said: “Due to inflation and rising interest rates, there are a lot of people with low wages and with the rising cost of living, who can no longer meet all their needs. their”. many years.
According to the United Nations World Migration Report, the UAE is home to nearly 8.7 million migrants, mainly from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Henley and Partners, a London-based investment migration advisory firm, estimates there are more than 68,000 millionaires and 13 billionaires in Dubai, ranking the city as the 23rd richest in the world.

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