A Dubai jeweler frees 900 prisoners with a Dh1.5 million pre-Ramadan donation

Firoz Merchant, the prominent businessman behind Pure Gold Jewellers, has been instrumental in facilitating the release of thousands of debt-ridden inmates over the past 16 years, offering hope to those trapped in UAE prisons due to unpaid debts.

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Merchant's latest gesture, ahead of Ramadan, involves pledging Dh1.5 million to secure the release of around 900 prisoners, including individuals incarcerated for relatively small debts such as Dh1,100, Dh5,300, and Dh15,000 dating back to 2019. He emphasized that these individuals, far from being hardened criminals, are victims of unfortunate circumstances, unable to meet financial obligations due to reasons beyond their control.

Through his initiative, the Forgotten Society, established in 2008, Merchant not only settles the debts of these inmates but also provides them with airfare to return home and reunite with their families. His efforts have impacted the lives of over 20,000 prisoners as he collaborates closely with police authorities across the country.

Reflecting on his philanthropic journey, Merchant recounted a poignant case where he intervened to help an Indian laborer facing imprisonment due to an accidental death at a construction site. Despite being charged with involuntary manslaughter and unable to afford the blood money required, Merchant stepped in, clearing the man's debts and facilitating his return home.

Merchant's own background, marked by humble beginnings in Mumbai's overcrowded slums, fuels his dedication to social causes. From experiencing poverty firsthand to building a successful jewelry business, his journey epitomizes resilience and determination.

Merchant expresses gratitude for the chance to work with UAE government officials and thanks influential figures like Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan for their assistance. His dedication to supporting programs like the Inmates' Humanitarian Cases Project is demonstrated by his recent donation of Dh600,000 to Ma'an, the Abu Dhabi Government’s platform for social contributions.

For Merchant, the Forgotten Society initiative is more than just securing prisoners' release; it's about reuniting them with their families and communities, irrespective of gender, nationality, or religion. Inspired by his late parents' values, he remains steadfast in his belief in the inherent worth of every human being.

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