Charity or ‘zakat’, is one of the most important aspects of Ramadan and one of the pillars of the Islamic faith…

During the Holy Month, many start to think about Zakat obligations, helping those less fortunate and pushing forward with year-round social responsibility initiatives. But there are dozens of Dubai restaurants, shops, and salons that go above and beyond throughout the year to help do their bit for society and the world.

Here are 14 homegrown heroes leading the way…

1. Charicycles

Home of Dubai’s trendiest vintage bikes, Charicycles embraces social responsibility with gusto. Not only are all the bicycles they sell secondhand (salvaged from landfills in Japan and lovingly renovated here in Dubai), a percentage of every bike sold goes towards providing bikes to children in refugee camps, in an attempt to give them an element of freedom. The store also offers customers the chance to purchase subsidised helmets and hi-visibility vests that are then distributed by Charicycles to low-income workers such as gardeners here in Dubai, all part of their ‘Stories in the Sand’ campaign.

Alserkal Avenue, Mon to Sat 11am to 9pm. Tel: (055) 102 4469.,

2. Kave

As if all that work with Charicycles wasn’t enough, the founders have now launched Kave: The Story of Things. The concept warehouse space consists of a mixture of up-cycled furniture with wellness and up-cycle workshops where you can transform old tins into hipster guitars or learn the art of glass blowing. There’s also a café – wholly made of up-cycled materials – which has a zero plastic and paper policy (receipts are emailed to you) and regular pay-it-forward days where customers can help provide for those less fortunate.

Warehouse 20, Alserkal Avenue, 11am to 9pm, Monday to Saturday. Tel: (055) 102 4469.,

3. Projeto Acai

You might know them as serving up Dubai’s prettiest breakfast bowls at their Dubai Marina and Sheikh Zayed Road locations, but Projecto Acai is much more than that. The team are passionate about environmental accountability and buy all their Amazon Forest acai from a sustainable and Fairtrade source. Projecto Acai has agreed a partnership where the cost of the acai they buy includes a donation to the Purple for The Planet initiative, which buys back areas of the Amazon to prevent deforestation, as well as supporting local communities. Both locations also have converted to reusable and biodegradable packaging and encourage diners to go straw-less.

Al Hubob St, Dubai Marina, Sun to Thur 7.30am to 1am, Fri 8am to 2am, Sat 7.30am to 2am. Tel: (04) 4477622. ALSO: Sheikh Zayed Road

4. Glamour Hair Salon

Not only is this salon getting the roots and locks of ladies from Abu Dhabi looking luscious and perfectly groomed, it’s also giving back to society. Stylists at the salon encourage customers coming in for a cut to donate their hair to young cancer patients through the salon’s partnership with the Little Princess Trust in the UK. The salon gives personalised certificates to everyone who donates hair as a thank-you.

Al Raha Beach, Block B, Al Zeina, Abu Dhabi. Mon to Thur 9am to 9pm, Fri 9am to 7pm, Sat 9am to 2pm. (02) 555 9902. ALSO: Al Ain Tower, Khalidiya, Abu Dhabi  

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5. Pure Born

Eco-friendly baby products is at the heart of what Pure Born is all about, selling essentials such as nappies and wet wipes that don’t harm the environment. As well as being vegan, cruelty free, and safe on the skin, the nappy range is made from 100 per cent eco-biodegradable bamboo sourced from sustainable resources. Plus, 5 per cent of Pure Born’s annual proceeds go towards supporting children around the world; this year, Dubai Cares is their chosen partner.

Pure Born, available online and at Lulu Hypermarkets.

6. Green Works

Popular plant nursery Green Works has partnered with ‘green social enterprise’ platform Goumbook for their ‘Give a Ghaf’ campaign. The initiative encourages people and businesses to plant the drought-tolerant, indigenous Ghaf trees across the UAE Alongside their everyday paid jobs, Green Works are giving back by providing the adequate temperature, wind and soil consistency for the Ghaf seeds to grow. They also educate schools across the UAE; planting and sowing seeds together with the children, showing them the importance of sustainability.

Al Barari development, Tel: (04) 3886695.

7. The Smash Room

Feeling stressed and after a little release of emotions? Dubai’s Smash Room could be the place to let go of some pent-up aggression. Doing exactly what it says on the tin, this homegrown leisure concept sources all their items from junkyards, and once you’ve smashed them up, they’re all sent for recycling in order to reduce electronic waste. The company has also partnered with classifieds e-site Melltoo, who are running a campaign to collect donations for the Emirates Red Crescent to feed and help refugees.

195 Umm Suqueim Street, Al Quoz Industrial 4,11am to 10pm daily. (04) 339 7810.

8. The London Project

Dubai’s coolest new bar and restaurant, sitting just under the giant wheel on Bluewaters is definitely making a name for itself, but our attention is on its water bottles. A portion of every bottle of water sold at The London Project goes towards funding water wells all over the world through Save The Children. And as a reminder of the difference that customers are making with their purchase, the water bottles are beautifully decorated with ‘thank you’ and you’re a lifesaver’ emblems worked into the design.

Bluewaters, Sun to Thur 9am to 1am, Thur to Sat 9am to 2am. (04) 580 8570.

9. Kibsons

Dubai’s online fruit and veg delivery company has grown enormously since setting up in 1980, and social responsibility is high on their agenda. Among a long list of CSR initiatives is supplying free fruits to thousands of children in Dubai at a range of sports events including the BSME games, the World Games and various school sports days. The company also supports underprivileged children in Dubai and abroad through large donations to the team at Action Care, as well as providing food for the Ramadan Sharing Fridges project, which sees pop-up fridges with free food and drinks dotted around the UAE for low-income workers to access. They are also working with farms to develop environment-friendly, sustainable packaging.

Kibsons. Tel: (800) 5427667.

ALSO READ: 6 of the best healthy meal delivery services in Dubai to try

10. Petsville

We love anyone who helps take care of our four-legged friends, but doggy daycare and groomers Petsville also supports the stray dogs of Dubai. As they’re the experts in making our pooches look their best, they’ve offered up their grooming services for free to doggy shelter K9 Friends, all in an attempt to make the stray dogs more appealing on adoption days and generally all year round. And Petsville aren’t alone, the staff at K9 friends also sing the praises of groomers Barkingham Palace and Woof too.

29b Street, 18-30, Industrial Area 3, Al Quoz. 7am to 7pm daily. Tel: (04) 225 2742.

11. Soccer Kids Dubai

Not only are they one of the biggest soccer coaching programmes for children in the UAE (running soccer camps, after school clubs and pre-school activities), but Soccer Kids Dubai is on a mission to make football available to everyone no matter their circumstances. The company runs an ‘Inclusive Through Soccer’ initiative where they provide free training and camps for adults and children with disabilities and learning difficulties. They’ve also just kicked off a kit initiative in association with the Red Crescent, encouraging adults and children to donate old football shirts that can be distributed in areas of poverty.

ALSO READ: 7 sports teams to join in Dubai

12. Bags of the Future

This e-tailer offers a wide range of high-quality reusable bags made from jute, cotton, and juco (a jute/cotton mix) to carry everything from your supermarket shop to your beach essentials. Designed to clients’ exact specifications, for hoteliers, luxury retailers, and supermarkets, Bags of the Future products are sustainable, strong, durable and eco-friendly. As well as having the Earth’s interests at heart, they also donate bags to good causes all over the Emirate, including 500 bags last year to the Ramadan fridge sharing initiative, in an attempt to reduce the amount of plastic that was being used to transport food to the fridges around town.

13. BY M.A.R.Y

Beautiful African-inspired prints, geometric patterns, metallics and sequins are fused with modern shapes to make up the contemporary collections of fashion label By M.A.R.Y – available at So Chic boutique. The brainchild of Marie Hosatte, who grew up on the African continent, this brand is giving the world more than just the fiercest silver leather pants we’ve ever seen, by donating Dhs50 of every sale to the Grand Bassam Orphanage for Girls, on the Ivory Coast. The contributions are used for educational purposes once the girls leave the orphanage.

Villa 6, Al Wasl Road, Umm Suqeim 1, Sun to Thur 9am to 5pm.

ALSO READ: Fashion Forward Dubai to return in October 2019 with a twist

 14. Nightjar

Aromatic and delicious coffee with banging avocado on toast aren’t the only things that Night Jar do well. The trendy eatery also has its finger on the pulse when it comes to fairer trading. Working alongside ‘direct trade’ company Raw Material, Night Jar is making sure that more money ends up in the pockets of the coffee farmers rather than a middle man who can take advantage of fluctuating markets. They’ve made a conscious choice to not work with large estates and instead buy from small farms. And where large quantities of coffee are needed, these are made up of selected smaller lots from many farms in one region.

Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, Tue and Sat 8am to 10pm, Sun to Mon 8am to 6pm. Tel: (04) 330 6635.

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