Last year, Firoz Merchant, an Indian businessman and philanthropist based in Dubai, “rescued” 132 inmates from Ajman Central Jail by pledging USD 1 million (AED 3.8 million) to pay off their debts. Recently, he paved the way for the release of hundreds more prisoners in the UAE.
To mark Ramadan, Merchant paid off the debts of 560 inmates across the country. In addition, he purchased airline tickets so that the prisoners can return to their home countries. Around 26 nationalities make up the hundreds of inmates that were helped by the philanthropist.
Indian Businessman Pays Off Debt of Expat Prisoners
Notably, Merchant has donated more than AED 20 million to this philanthropic efforts, one of which is “Forgotten Society” — the initiative that helped release the latest group of prisoners. It was organised by Pure Gold Group and founded by Merchant.
Through the philanthropist’s initiatives:
- Hundreds of prisoners were released; 300 from Ajman Central Jail & the rest from jails across UAE
- 560 airline tickets were purchased so that inmates can return to their home countries
These prisoners have completed their jail sentences. However, because of their outstanding debt, they were unable to be freed. Fortunately, Merchant donated AED 650,000 to the Faraj Fund, a relief fund for the welfare of inmates in correctional facilities. Along with the support of the Ministry of Interior, his generous donation helped secure the release of the prisoners.
In recognition of his humanitarian efforts, Abu Dhabi Police honoured Merchant:
“We are grateful to Firoz Merchant and Pure Gold Jewellers who have always been at the forefront of supporting Ajman Police in its charitable initiatives,” stated Brigadier General Mubarak Al Rizzi, Director General of Punitive and Correctional Establishment, Ajman Police.
“Over the years, the company has been honoured more than once for its humanitarian efforts and we hope that more private organisations such as Pure Gold would come forward to support people in need in society,” the Director General stated.
Granting People a Second Chance
Ever since Merchant began the initiative in 2008, Forgotten Society has reunited over 15,000 inmates with their families. For the past 10 years, in particular, his efforts have secured the release of 5,000 prisoners from Ajman Central Jail.
“Through this initiative, we clear the financial liabilities of prisoners who have been incarcerated for money-related cases, ensuring they reach their home countries and are united with their families,” the philanthropist declared.
“Paying their debt will set them free and will allow them to start again,” Merchant explained. “It’s like setting a bird free and when you do good to people who deserve it you will feel good too .… We are humbled by the privilege we have to serve a community that has been forgotten by society.”
On his official FB Page, Merchant shared that he believes in second chances:
In addition to prisoners released though the Faraj Fund, Merchant aims to help pay off the debts of over 1,000 inmates at Ajman Central Jail. Of course, we should always strive to stay away from trouble in the first place. We can start by reading this UAE social etiquette guide.