Fujairah prison-1599223241692
An inmate at a Fujairah prison video chats with his family. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Courtesy: Fujairah Police

Dubai: Philanthropist Firoz Merchant, founder and chairman of Pure Gold Group, has covered the cost of airline tickets for 50 insolvent inmates recently released from the Punitive and Correctional Institution of Fujairah.

The initiative is part of Pure Gold Jewellers humanitarian initiative dubbed ‘Forgotten Society’ aimed at helping indebted prisoners.

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Merchant, a self-made Indian billionaire expat, said: “We started the Forgotten Society initiative in 2008 when many started to face business and job losses and had to face jail terms for their unpaid debts. Now, with COVID-19 affecting the livelihood of many, the need to help people in financial crisis is more than ever.”

“The released prisoners are those whose debts have been cleared and our role this time is to help cover the cost of their airfare. These are unprecedented times and many are suffering due to the pandemic and I am delighted to extend this gesture of help towards these inmates,” he added.

Charity in times of COVID-19

In a recent interview with Gulf News, Merchant said: “In whatever way I could, I have continued to help several prisoners of different nationalities and religion. These were people who were stuck in prison because they were unable to pay their fines. I paid off their fines, secured their release and provided them free air tickets so that they could get return to their home countries. I have been doing this since 2008 and I did not let the pandemic stop me.”

The total cost of repatriation was Dh90,000 for the released inmates who came from various nationalities and different religious affiliations, according to Pure Gold Jewellers.

“This is a great initiative by the philanthropist Firoz Merchant to help the released prisoners return home, and this gives them a second chance in life,” said Brigadier General Ahmed Hamdan Al-Zeyoudi, Director of the Punitive and Correctional Institution in Fujairah

He added: “We hope for more such partnerships between the private sector and the Ministry of Interior to support the community. It is our moral responsibility to help those who are suffering”.