Dubai: His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the Emirates Food Bank as a humanitarian foundation that aims to inculcate the values of generosity and offering food, establishing Dubai as the region’s first city in achieving zero food waste to landfill.

The initiative coincides with the Year of Giving, which was declared by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan last month.

It comes on the occasion of the 11th anniversary of Shaikh Mohammad’s accession as Ruler of Dubai.

Shaikh Mohammad called on all public and private organisations and the UAE community to dedicate the celebration of his accession day to charity initiatives.

The food bank will include hotels, food factories, farms, hospitality foundations, giant supermarkets and philanthropists. The bank will also deal with surplus fresh and canned food in a professional manner under the supervision of relevant bodies.

The food will be distributed in the UAE and abroad in collaboration with local and international humanitarian and charitable organisations.

The food bank will also forge partnerships with leading hotel chains, food manufacturers and farms. The bank will allow volunteers to distribute the food in the UAE and beyond.

“The Year of Giving is a golden opportunity to unleash the humanitarian potential and charitable innovations of the UAE people and all local institutions. We are very pleased to begin the Year of Giving with an initiative related to the most important human need, food, to deepen the merit of generosity in Emirati people,” Shaikh Mohammad said.

“The UAE people are one on the most generous. We will try through the Emirates Food Bank to put this great value of generosity and feeding people within a sustainable institutional framework,” Shaikh Mohammad added.

The food bank will fall under the umbrella of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives. It gains special importance as a local and regional initiative with humanitarian, social, economic and cultural value.

“2017 is a year of goodness and blessing in the UAE. We want the UAE’s God-given blessings to reach every place in the world through innovative initiatives and humanitarian foundations,” Shaikh Mohammad underlined.

“We seek through the newly established bank to engage the largest number of community institutions and volunteers in a new charity system following in the footsteps of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan,” the Vice-President said.

The UAE strives to use the Year of Giving’s themes through the food bank to entrench a culture of giving, social responsibility and voluntary work in the UAE and to achieve international sustainability standards that aim to firmly establish the values of commitment and community responsibility individually and institutionally.

The bank aims to activate corporate social responsibility, specifically hotels, restaurants, food manufacturers and food contractors as well as supermarkets and hospitality sector-related bodies.

All these sectors will work together to provide the capital — food — of the bank and supply the bank with food surplus continuously to enhance the bank’s efficiency, expand its scope of activities and increase the volume of beneficiaries.

Economically, the bank aims to save the Dh13 billion wasted in the disposal of leftovers and food waste. The bank also seeks to strengthen the recycling economy and activate commercial and industrial activities in a manner that entrenches the concept of sustainability.

The bank will commence its operations in Dubai in accordance with a strategic plan in the first phase of its launch.

During this phase, branches and other centres of the bank will be set up in the UAE and abroad, specifically in less fortunate countries, as part of the UAE’s message aiming to broadening its charitable, relief and humanitarian activities in the world.

Dubai Municipality will support and oversee the bank operations through following up on the collection of food and ensure its safe storage in several locations available in Dubai using cooling systems as per international safety food standards.

The bank stems from a vision that aspires to promote social practices and habits to rationalise food consumption, reduce food surplus and, accordingly, cut quantities of food waste.