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Dubai Municipality to put foreign currency in charity boxes to good use

A new plan aims to channel foreign currency, which often gets mixed with dirhams in donation boxes, into a Currency Charity Bank, a senior Dubai Municipality official told Gulf News.

Charity organisations in the UAE sometimes encounter loose change in foreign currency, wondering what to do with it, said Mariam Bin Fahd, director of Dubai Municipality’s knowledge management department.

Now, the municipality’s Currency Charity Bank programme, which she founded, is reaching out to charities, explaining that the foreign cash can be given to the municipality, which plans to hand it over to Emirates Airline Foundation, a children’s welfare group.

Bin Fahd said the foundation has the resources to take foreign coins by the kilo and have them converted into dollars, euros or pounds, which can be used to support children’s projects around the world.

She came up with the idea after realising that loose change in foreign currencies is not readily accepted by money exchange houses, banks, charities and shops in the UAE — effectively rendering the change useless.

The municipality has already set up Currency Charity Bank boxes at its branches to exclusively receive donations of foreign monies, Gulf News had reported in July. However, the new plan to enlist charities will make it easier for residents and tourists to donate foreign currency in regular charity boxes, already present in thousands of locations across the UAE, she added.

Charities in turn will find it convenient to hand over the non-dirham denominations to the municipality, Bin Fahd said.

In August, Dubai Charity Association handed 170kg in foreign coins, plus “a big amount of notes”, to the programme, which has collected more than 300kg so far.

“We haven’t sorted out all the currencies yet but they are from more than 120 countries, and counting, and are worth a substantial amount. Sometimes we find rare issues or currencies no longer in circulation – they can be auctioned to investors for charity,” Bin Fahd said.

“We are waiting to formalise everything with the other UAE charities and the Emirates Airline Foundation. This new plan will put foreign currency to good use, for a good cause, in an easy way for everyone.”

She added that the initiative is gaining traction with people from all walks of life. “For example, a hotel worker used to find a little foreign change left behind by tourists and guests sometimes when he was cleaning the rooms. He was wondering what can be done with this change. He read the Gulf News story [in July] and brought the money to the Currency Charity Bank,” Bin Fahd said.

Nikhil Joseph Manoj, 14, an Indian student in Dubai, had also read the story. He visited the municipality and decided to volunteer in sorting out the currencies, spending two weeks there during his school break in summer.

Nikhil said: “My hobby is collecting currencies, so I had a fun and productive time volunteering for this initiative, which is putting the currencies to good use. Not many people think about this issue; the money just ends up staying inside the drawer.”

Bin Fahd called upon residents, tourists, charities, government departments and private establishments to hand over spare change in foreign currencies to the initiative. She said more guidance is available on the municipality’s hotline 800900.

Source: Gulf News

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