Being one of the most oil-rich countries in the world, Qatar’s capital, Doha, is a bustling metropolis with a lot of rich people and huge amounts of wealth on open display.
But despite the ostentatious nature of the city, there is one restaurant which does a great bit of charity, in the form of inviting poor people to come and eat for free.
The eatery, called Zaiqa, is located about 10 miles from the center of Doha in the industrial zone, which has small-scale workshops, factories, and low-cost accommodation.
Less than a month ago, the brothers who own Zaiqa decided to put a sign in the window of the restaurant offering free food for anyone who cannot afford to buy it themselves.
As co-owner Shadab Khan, who is originally from New Delhi, told reporters, “When I saw the board I had tears in my eyes. Even now when I talk about it, I get a lump in my throat.”
The restaurant, located opposite a mosque on a road called “Street 23,” charges $1.65 for a fish curry, which is not expensive by any standards, alas is beyond the reach of many poor laborers who live nearby.
And there’s no shortage of migrant workers in Qatar, as there is an estimated 700,000 to one million in the small gulf state.
Although, as one of Zaiqa’s diners, mechanic Ghufran Ahmed, told reporters, most of the money gets sent back home, “Many labourers earn 800-1,000 riyals ($220-$275) per month. They have to send money back to home. It’s expensive here so there are people who need free food,” he said.
According to Shadab, most of those who come to eat for free are construction workers, mainly from India, Nepal and Bangladesh, “We realise a lot of people out here do not get paid on time and do not have money, not even money to eat. So there were people who would come here and just buy a packet of bread. And they would eat the bread with water.”
Shadab added, “So, we realised those people don’t have money for anything else. They just buy a packet of bread, which comes to about one riyal. So, we would try to offer them food.”
And as if the brother’s kindness wasn’t enough, Shadab added that they intend to place a fridge outside the shop, so that people can take food without “eating the bread of shame.”
“We are putting a refrigerator outside, so this refrigerator won’t have a lock. It will be facing the road and it will have packets of food with dates on them. So anybody who wants to take it, he doesn’t have to come inside,” he said.
[Credit image: laprovence.com]