Living below the line: Dubai residents challenge themselves to eat on $1.5 a day

Published May 1st, 2013 - 08:09 GMT
A group of Dubai residents are challenging themselves to spend $1.50 on food a day. Getty image, for illustrative purposes
A group of Dubai residents are challenging themselves to spend $1.50 on food a day. Getty image, for illustrative purposes

In the fight against extreme poverty, a few Dubai residents have taken up the challenge to eat on just Dh28 for five days. Or roughly Dh5.51 ($1.50) per day - the accepted figure to define extreme poverty. Resident Rebecca Morris along with six colleagues from Dubai-based DMG events has signed up for the Live Below the Line campaign, which started on Monday.

The advocacy and fundraising campaign, supported by Unicef, is part of the Global Poverty Project whose mission is to increase the number and effectiveness of people taking action against extreme poverty. According to the campaign website (, one has to try to understand poverty to really fight it.

The campaign estimates that there are 1.4 billion people who live in extreme poverty today. British expatriate Morris, a marketing manager, followed the campaign suggestion of spending the entire weekly budget of Dh28 ($7.50) ahead of the five-day challenge.

Speaking exclusively to Gulf News, Morris said that she picked generic staples like eggs, bread, spaghetti, tomatoes, frozen vegetables, potatoes and tinned beans and peas. “I have planned my breakfast, lunch and dinner around these items. I am going without tea, coffee, chocolate and juice — basically nothing outside the items I shopped for for the five days,” she said.

The most difficult part of the challenge, said Morris, was the monotony of food choices and the rigid menu. “There will be no takeouts or experiments with home meals,” she said. The learning for her will be the test of will power, and the empathy from experiencing what people living in extreme poverty experience.

“I will know what it is like to do without. We are extremely fortunate given the wide selection and availability of food,” she said. During the challenge, the food choices — and costs — are a departure from her regular consumption, said Morris. “Usually I spend around Dh300 per week, including takeaways and other indulgences,” she said.

The team from the company comprising Morris, Anna Canning, Teresa Magras, Tasmine Othman, Tina Quarishi and Sangeeta Dhakta, hope to raise in excess of Dh1,000 through donations and fundraising activities as well. Celebrities like Ben Affleck, Jonah Hill, Josh Groban, Sophia Bush and Tom Hiddleston are expecting to participate in the campaign, report entertainment websites.

What do you think of the initiative? Could you live on $1.50 a day? Let us know what you think - leave a comment!

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