Faced with galloping inflation, free bread dispensers for the poorest have sprung up in Dubai, a wealthy Gulf emirate where millionaires, influencers and poor migrant workers rub shoulders.
Lthe city of Dubai, which imports almost all of its food, is not immune to rising prices, a global trend exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.
In front of one of the ten vendors recently installed in supermarkets, Bigandar attentively observes the touch screen that allows him to choose between Arabic bread, bread for sandwiches or chapatis (Indian pancakes). The credit card reader is not used to pay, but to make donations. “A friend told me there was free bread so I came”, says this young Nepalese, who did not want to give his full name. Like millions of Asian immigrants, he came to try his luck in the city of plenty located in the United Arab Emirates.
As a result of the initiative on bread distributors, the foundation of the ruler of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. “The idea is to go to disadvantaged families and workers before they come to us”explains its director Zeïnab Joumaa al-Tamimi.
“The idea is to go to disadvantaged families and workers before they come to us” Zeïnab Joumaa al-Tamimi
Anyone in need can now get a pack of four heated bunsin less than two minutes, just “by pressing a key”she welcomes.
The United Arab Emirates, an oil-rich state, has a population of almost 10 million, of which approximately 90% are foreigners, foreigners from the middle class and especially the working poor from Asia and Africa. Dubai, which is less rich in hydrocarbons than the capital Abu Dhabi, is counting on this army of workers to build skyscrapers or even support the service sector, from real estate to luxury tourism, which has earned its reputation. Bigandar, who has been employed as a car washer for three years, says he is paid three dirhams (83 euro cents) per car. vehicle and relies on tips from customers to generate 700 to 1,000 dirhams a month (between 194 and 277 euros).
“My employer covers accommodation and transport, but not food”he says.
In a sign of the growing difficulties for foreign workers, a rare strike was led in May by delivery workers demanding better wages in the face of rising gasoline prices.
In July, the authorities announced the doubling social assistance, but only for the handful of Emirati families with incomes below 25,000 dirhams a month (approx. 7,000 euros), are considered disadvantaged households. These aids do not include foreigners.
A welcome initiative
“We live in a special economic situation due to inflation and interest rate increases”says Fadi Alrasheed, a Jordanian expatriate in Dubai for twenty years.
“There are many people whose wages are low and who, with the rising cost of living, can no longer meet all their needs”he notes, welcoming the free bread initiative.