What’s On has details of volunteer groups and charities in Abu Dhabi including Make-A-Wish UAE, Special Care Centre and Operation Smile UAE.

Ramadan daytime dining
Iftars and suhours

Community Causes


Feel Great Helping is a volunteer group founded by Dutch expat Babs Klijn four years ago. After moving from New Zealand and no longer working, Klijn decided to focus her efforts on giving back to the community. “I wanted to help those fortunate enough to be living here, but not able to enjoy the same luxuries I do,” she says. The group of volunteers currently supports approximately 400 women labourers in Abu Dhabi by organising educational and creative skills workshops, hosting excursions in the emirate and gifting care packages. Past events have included makeovers, boat trips at the Eastern Mangroves Promenade and a
night out at the Filipino concert, Rock That Love.

How to help:
Volunteers with specific skills – such as singing, dancing, art, needlework – are urged to volunteer their time to host classes and workshops. Businesses can get involved by sponsoring days out, providing tickets for special events and gifting services. The group will be closed over the summer and will resume activities in September.




To find out more about volunteering in the city, the Abu Dhabi Cause Connect Facebook page is certainly worth checking out. Co-founded by Suparna Mathur in 2011, this group is keen to connect different non-profits, charities, community groups and businesses together for the greater good.

How to help
Simply browse the page to find a range of charities and groups that need support as well as various events happening in and around town (from fitness classes, film screenings to donation drives) that you can attend.


Do It For The Kids


Make-A-Wish UAE is the local branch of an international non-profit organisation dedicated to brightening the lives of children diagnosed with life-threatening conditions. Children and their families are granted a special wish – from flying a helicopter, being a princess for a day, to even meeting a celebrity like WWE star John Cena – in order to provide them with hope and a memorable experience.

How to help:
For individuals, schools and businesses looking to help sponsor a wish or raise funds to grant wishes, get in touch with the organisation directly on Facebook to discover how to fundraise in Abu Dhabi.



The Special Care Centre, a non-profit school, enrols children with special needs from low-income families into their specialised facility. Children with Down’s Syndrome, autism, ADHD, learning difficulties and cerebral palsy are welcome and are taught skills to help them reach their full potential.

The school, which currently has 63 students, is located in a residential villa and is in the process of building a much larger, fully equipped facility in Al Bahia to house more students. There are more than 140 students on the waiting list.

How to help:
Launched in 2008, the Donate A Brick campaign (one brick is Dhs5) is actively raising funds for the new school. In addition, individuals and businesses can sponsor a child and pay for their schooling fees for the year. You can also volunteer your time, either in the classroom, office or by organising events.


Operation Smile


Aimed at helping children around the world smile, Operation Smile UAE is an international charity providing free surgeries to kids born with facial deformities, including cleft lips or palates. The UAE branch was established in 2011 and recently participated in their tenth anniversary mission in Amman, Jordan, this last April. The surgical mission took place at Prince Al Hussein Bin Abdullah II Hospital and saw 101 patients receive surgery on cleft palate repairs, lip scar revisions and hemangioma injections. The dental mission saw 242 procedures performed including extractions, filings, fluoride and scalings.

How to help:
The group recruits both medical volunteers (plastic surgeons, anaesthesiologists, paediatricians, nurses, dentists and speech/language pathologists) as well as community volunteers, who help organise fundraising events, do office admin and more. The charity is currently raising funds for a mission to Egypt later this year.


Four Legged Friends


Relying solely on the public to help shelter, foster and adopt both cats and dogs here, Animal Action UAE is a welfare group created by Melanie Stones that is keen to “help as many stray and unwanted animals in the UAE by getting them veterinary care and finding them the best homes”. In addition to neutering and providing immediate medical attention to the animals, Stones explains, “we try and educate the public about the importance of adopting instead of breeding or buying an animal, when there are already so many hundreds in need.”

How to help:
They are currently searching for foster homes for more than 100 dogs and cats due to the summer holiday season. If you can’t foster an animal but would still like to help, there are various ways to get involved including photographing animals, helping on adoption days, dog walking, etc.




Feline Friends is a non-profit organisation focused on helping cats in the UAE. In addition to rehoming, rescuing and rehabilitating strays and abandoned moggies, the group holds adoption days every six to eight weeks. “We have had so many success stories,” says volunteer Vasu Bhatnagar. One such feel-good story is Blue, a one-year-old cat who was found abandoned here in Abu Dhabi. He had one bone longer than the other in his front paw, which caused him pain. “A lot of people would have given up on him, but Feline Friends hasn’t – we’ve spent Dhs6,500 to make him better,” adds Bhatnagar. He is currently recovering and doing well.

How to help:
Feline Friends is looking for volunteers to foster/adopt animals, organise activities and work on the ground by rescuing injured cats. Their annual bazaar will be hosted in November.