Dubai turns world's tallest building into coronavirus charity box

Abdel Hadi Ramahi, Reuters

Posted at May 12 2020 07:49 PM

People walk outside Dubai mall after the UAE government eased a curfew and allowed stores to open, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, May 3, 2020. Abdel Hadi Ramahi, Reuters

DUBAI - The world's tallest building, Dubai's 828-meter Burj Khalifa, has become a glowing charity donation box, raising money for food for United Arab Emirates residents suffering the economic impact of the new coronavirus pandemic.

Each of the tower's 1.2 million external lights was "sold" for 10 dirhams ($2.70), enough to buy 1 meal. As donations came in, the tower "filled up," and people could also bid to claim the light at the very top.

As the region's tourism and business hub with the world's busiest international airport, Dubai's economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Many people have lost jobs or had incomes reduced. Tens of thousands of migrant workers, who often live in crowded shared accommodation where the virus spreads more easily, have registered to be repatriated.

"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 campaign's website.

The UAE has recorded 19,661 cases of infection with COVID-19 and 203 deaths, the second highest death toll after Saudi Arabia of the 6 Gulf states.

The donation box has raised funds for more than 1.2 million meals so far, organizing body The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI) said.

The fundraising drive is part of a campaign to fund 10 million meals for low-income families during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan by MBRGI, patronized by Dubai's ruler and UAE Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.