ABU DHABI // Queues of taxis snaked around Le Royal Meridien hotel from before 6pm on Tuesday as staff handed out bags filled with biryani, dates, juice, water and fresh fruits to cabbies at the entrance.
Wazir Ullah Umer was among those to receive the free iftar gift pack that the 48 Starwood Group hotels hand out every year for the Iftar for Cabs project.
“We have come to get the iftar food,” said the 32-year-old Pakistani driver with Emirates Taxi. “It is a very good thing they are doing every year.”
Looking at the bag, Mr Umer said he was looking forward to breaking his fast.
Abdel Sayed, 32, an Emirates Taxi driver from Morocco, said he was happy to have the food in case he had a passenger during iftar.
“If we have passengers who need to go to Musaffah, we cannot stop in the middle to break our fast during athan,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to the chicken biryani,” said Rajendra Khatri, 44, a Nepalese driver with Arabia Taxi. “We pick up and drop customers here and we are happy they’re doing something for us.”
Gopakumar, 39, who drives for Cars Taxi, said a colleague had told him about the free meals.
“I’ve been working here in Abu Dhabi for three years, but it’s my first time to receive an iftar pack,” he said.
All of the 200 meal packs at Le Royal Meridien were handed out within minutes by staff, including general manager Max Wiegerinck.
He said the annual project was a way of giving back to the community.
“We asked ourselves, ‘how can we help the taxi drivers, who help us?’” Mr Wiegerinck said.
Some taxi drivers were unable to break their fast as they had a customer at iftar time, he said.
“Now, wherever they are on the road, they can stop and have their meal,” said Mr Wiegerinck.
In the capital, the meal packs were also distributed an hour before iftar at the main entrances of Aloft, Le Meridien, Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel, St Regis Abu Dhabi, St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, and Westin Golf Resort and Spa.
The hotel group has distributed 3,000 iftar packs in previous years.
(via The National)