Dubai’s art and cultural district, Alserkal Avenue supports communities with its Alserkal Pay It Forward Programme, generating a value of more than AED2 million in kind. Over 50 Alserkal Avenue based businesses have joined forces through the Alserkal Pay It Forward Programme to support each other and the wider Dubai community amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Alserkal Pay It Forward Programme was launched by the Alserkal founder Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal in April 2020 in April. The programme waived three months’ rent to encourage business owners at Alserkal Avenue to develop initiatives to support various communities. As part of the Alserkal Pay It Forward Programme, over 22,000 meals and thousands of masks were delivered to frontline health workers and vulnerable communities.
As Alserkal Avenue supports communities, Abdelmonem said, “The power of community is unparalleled. The generosity of people does not surprise me, but it continues to humble me. Through the Alserkal Pay It Forward Programme, the Alserkal community has risen to the challenge of supporting each other through difficult times, and demonstrated true strength and resilience. Community has always been the bedrock of our organisation, and we will always keep this essential value at the heart of everything we do.”
The businesses housed at Alserkal Avenue have supported the community through the exchange of goods, services and expertise, including design, videography, brand building, media resources, website design and transportation support.
Culinary concept INKED turned their space into a community kitchen, cooking and delivering 22,290 meals to frontline health workers and vulnerable communities in collaboration with Dubai Health Authority, and the UAE Food Bank. Family business Italian Shoe Factory produced 500 masks for the UAE Deaf Association. Home-grown brand KAVE created safety boxes that included Kayani masks and handmade soaps by Indigo Soap Works. For every box sold, a meal was donated to the INKED community kitchen programme. The Appetite café in A4 Space provided F&B vouchers to all businesses in Alserkal Avenue. While Careem Bike offered 250 free annual subscriptions to low-income earners, supporting them with their mobility across the city.
“Our Alserkal Pay It Forward initiative, and those of our counterparts elsewhere, are reminders that cultural precincts can be deeply embedded, and invested, in their local communities, challenging some of the reductive rhetoric that suggests that cultural precincts are synonymous only with the built environment,” added Vilma Jurkute, director, Alserkal Avenue. “Shared values, nimbleness and a commitment to the local community are common denominators in formulating responses to change, linking the arts to social transformation.”