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Pakistani expatriate Mohammad Dawood serving free water, biscuits, sanitisers and disposable prayer mats to visitors on the Sharjah beach near his house. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Sharjah: A Pakistani expat in Sharjah is winning hearts by distributing free bottled water, disposable prayer mats — and now face masks and hand sanitisers — to people outside his villa facing the city’s newly-developed beachfront along Al Montazah Road.

At 5pm every weekend, Mohammad Dawood, 64, steps out of his two-storeyed house, pushing a food serving trolley carrying these items which he then hands over to anyone passing by. It’s a schedule the veteran sales manager has been diligently following for the past three years. But now’s he’s got his hands full.

As the weather gets pleasant, thousands of visitors are drawn to the picturesque beachfront, which includes nearly three kilometres of jogging and cycling tracks besides sitting areas nestled amid well-manicured floral beds and well lit pathways.

“Very few people frequented this place in the past so most of the things in my trolley would remained undistributed,” Dawood recalled. “Not any more. Now this place is milling with everyone from joggers, walkers and cyclists to people on wheel chairs and picnicking families. I have to keep replenishing every few minutes and add variety. So if it’s not biscuits, it’s chocolates and candies. The kids relish them.” said Dawood, who is often assisted by his wife and sons — Hamza and Samir, both in their thirties.

The latest addition to his trolley in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic are disposable face masks and a hand sanitiser bottle. “Face masks get damp due to breathing and sweating. A lot of runners want to replace them and I am happy to help. I also keep sanitisers and encourage people to use them before they pick anything from the trolley,” said the Good Samaritan, who relocated to the UAE from Saudi Arabia around 20 years back.

Social distancing is maintained throughout the exercise, which typically lasts around two-and-half hours.

Dawood’s selfless act has made him scores of friends, mostly in the past few weeks.

One of them is financial planner Sunil Sequeira from India. Sequeira said he met Dawood when he was taking an evening stroll with wife Diena recently. “It was humid and we were thirsty,” he recalled. “As we crossed the Sharjah International Marine Sports Club, we came across the endearing sight of a man distributing water. He offered us as bottle as well. Soon we struck a conversation. Now we are good friends. What Dawood is doing is truly remarkable. It takes a great deal of personal commitment to stand there till late evening week after week,” said Sequira, who has been living in the UAE for the past four decades.

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Dawood’s selfless act has made him scores of friends, mostly in the past few weeks. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

An Egyptian family said it was thoughtful of Dawood to distribute disposable prayer mats. “They came handy there are no prayer rooms or mosques around.”

Saad, a young Emirati student who lives in the neighbourhood, described Dawood’s gesture as “heartwarming”

But Dawood remains self-effacing. I am all doing this to bring a smile to faces,” he said. “The water cartons, biscuit packets and prayer mats costs just a few dirhams — the blessings I get in return are priceless.”