Volunteers assembling back to school kits by Dubai Cares for conflict affected Syrian refugees in Jordan. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archive

Dubai: Instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media for hours on your spare time, why not spend your precious hour running errands for the elderly, helping renovate schools, recording audiobooks for the visually impaired as volunteers in Dubai or helping in disaster relief abroad?

Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, has made volunteering easy in Dubai with the launch of the ‘Day for Dubai’, an initiative that encourages residents to share their time and energy for a day as a volunteer in Dubai.

Shaikh Hamdan on Thursday sent SMSes to residents following the launch of the Day for Dubai App that serves as a one-stop catalogue or record of all volunteering events in Dubai and, possibly, abroad.

“Join me on www.dayfordubai.com to reinforce Dubai’s position as a global city of giving and a centre of tolerance and compassion,” Shaikh Hamdan said in the SMS on Thursday.

The idea stemmed from Shaikh Hamdan’s call to residents last week to suggest how he can make a difference in people’s lives for one day on the International Volunteer Day celebrated on December 5.

Shaikh Hamdan urged residents to dedicate their time, and go beyond typical volunteering activities, by making volunteering a lifestyle. They can give their time, knowledge, skills and passion.

When it comes to time, the global time spent on social media is 135 minutes a day. That’s two hours and 15 minutes. Add that up for a full year and that’s one full month and four days of just doing that — social media.

But just devoting one day out of that month to helping people will have a big impact in their lives, especially if done for free and with sincerity.

The services and time of 3,819 volunteers this year, for example, contributed man hours equivalent to more than Dh6.3 million.

With the volunteering initiative, it is expected that the level of awareness of people about volunteering, currently at a low rate of 9.2 per cent among Emiratis and 3.6 per cent among non-Emiratis based on the Dubai Social Survey released last year, will increase. Residents who have always wanted to volunteer but do not know where to go will now be able to do it with ease.

The Day for Dubai app was launched for Apple and Android users and gives a compilation of volunteering opportunities where residents can register and choose where they can contribute — whether in a school, an institution, or a hospital, or a government entity, an official from the developer of the app, Watani Al Emarat, told Gulf News.

The app lists 13 volunteering opportunities to serve the elderly, children and youth, and people of determination. The other categories are education, mentoring, health, community support, sports and recreation, culture and arts, environment and wildlife, tolerance and hope, emergency and safety, and international volunteering.

Whether it’s helping in disaster management and relief operations abroad or engaging with people of determination through activities such as horse riding, scuba and skydiving, cleaning the desert and beach areas of Dubai, conducting self-defence and survival workshops for women and children, residents will have plenty of activities to choose from.

Other volunteering opportunities are in major city events like the Dubai Marathon, Innovation Month, World Cancer Day and World Government Summit.

The app also displays the date, location, number of volunteers needed, and volunteering hours for each opportunity.

Volunteers may track their accounts, log their hours and view their specific duty and achievements.

The app will also recognise volunteers depending on their volunteering hours in an honour roll.

How to join

  1. Download the app and register
  2. Upload your Emirates ID and wait for your registration to be approved
  3. Once approved, you can browse the different categories and events in the calendar and choose what volunteering opportunity suits your time and abilities
  4. Click join and wait for the organisers’ feedback and details of the event