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Food waste charities say UAE hotels 'afraid' to give leftovers away.

Hotels and restaurants in the UAE are "afraid" to give away their leftovers -- according to charity bosses working to curb food waste in the country.

Abu Dhabi-based logistics firm Massar Solutionsestimates that 3.27 million tonnes of food, worth Dhs13.6 billion, is wasted in the UAE every year.

A 2014 report by Environment Agency Abu Dhabi stated that food waste in the UAE comprises 39 per cent of an average household's organic wasteevery month.

But during Ramadan, Dubai Municipality estimates this increases to roughly 55 per cent, or 1,850 tonnes -- nearly a kilogram per resident.

"They [hotels and restaurants] are afraid," Sultan Mohammed Al Shehi, project manager of Saving Grace -- an Emirates Red Crescent initiative that

collects untouched leftovers and distributes it to labour camps, told 7DAYS. He added: "They want to cooperate but the issue is they're scared something will go wrong. Maybe they don't trust us or understand the process. They think after we collect the food we don't know how to keep it in a hygienic way and it could cause food poisoning and their reputation will be damaged. But that's not true."

Al Shehi said that 12 five-star hotels across the UAE are signed up to the scheme. 7DAYS contacted 10 well-known hotels, nine of which admitted they do not donate the surplus from their lavish iftar buffets.

One manager at a five-star hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road told 7DAYS: "God forbid someone dies from eating our leftover food. We'd get sued. Dubai Municipality's regulations for food safety are very strict. If something goes wrong, it won't just affect our hotel, it will affect the brand's reputation worldwide."

Leftover food being collected

Volunteers packaging iftar leftovers

Packaged food ready for distribution

Volunteers unloading food boxes

Little ones chipping in to volunteer

Ladies labour camp food delivery

Buffet of leftovers from hotels

Workers lining up for their meal

Female workers lining up to get their food

Food being served to workers

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Jul 8, 2015
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