Dubai resident Inger had given up all hopes of securing funding for her dream of starting a hair salon until she became Mahzooz's first female multimillionaire overnight, after scooping the Dh10 million ($2.7 million) jackpot.
The mother of one, 42, is a hair stylist from Britain and earned a maximum salary of Dh10,000 at a beauty salon in Dubai before becoming a homemaker.
“I want to fulfil my dream of opening a hair salon with my friend, invest for my family’s safe financial future and secure my son’s future,” Inger said on Thursday.
“My husband and I have always wanted a second child, but dropped the plan because of how expensive school fees are. We will reconsider that now.”
Her life-changing winning numbers for the December 10 Mahzooz draw were chosen at random, she said. The numbers were 22, 23, 25, 27 and 34.
Over the past two years, Mahzooz, which means lucky or fortunate in Arabic, has created 31 millionaires and given away more than Dh347 million in prize money to about 215,000 winners, Farid Samji, chief executive of Ewings, the operator of Mahzooz, said.
Last October, Junaid Rana, a Dubai-based company driver, became the UAE's biggest prize draw winner when he won the Dh50 million Mahzooz jackpot.
Mr Rana, originally from Pakistan, went from earning Dh6,000 a month to having the financial freedom that millions of people around the world spend years seeking.
“I couldn't believe it at the time; it’s like dreams come true,” Mr Rana said during an interview for The National's Pocketful of Dirhams podcast.
“The thing is, I still cannot believe that I have won. I am in shock because the amount is huge. I cannot believe it, even now.”
Inger, who has been in Dubai for more than 10 years, participated in the Mahzooz raffle draw only for the second time. She used the Dh35 she had won from a previous draw to purchase her winning ticket.
Her husband, originally from Australia, works in the project management industry in Dubai.
She did not check her Mahzooz account until the next day and was out for breakfast with her family when she received a call from the organisers informing her of the win. She refused to believe that she had won the lottery prize.
“I have only told two close friends about my win,” she said. “The UAE is a land of opportunities, it is so stable and our dreams come true here.”
The first thing Inger wanted to buy after the win was a designer belt. She also intends to buy property in Dubai.
She loves to travel, but usually backpacks and stays in hostels for $3 a night.
UAE jackpot winners — in pictures
Inger has created a vision board of a person flying in first class, so aspires to do the same as a “one-off” expense.
“We have been wanting to go on a family holiday, but flight expenses increased and we dropped the plan,” she said. “We will reconsider our plans now.”
Inger, who said she is very spiritual, also plans to help the needy with her winning money.
“I am a giver. I always help others until I am down to the last dirham. My husband helped stabilise my approach to finances,” she said.
There are other draws in the UAE that offer large prizes, including Emirates Draw, which was launched in September last year.
The draw recently increased its mega prize to Dh140 million, the largest on offer in the UAE.
Participants have to match seven numbers from right to left to win. However, nobody has yet claimed the top prize.
In the past few months, both Emirates Draw and Mahzooz have introduced extra draws on Friday nights.
The Mahzooz draws are held on Fridays at 8pm and Saturdays at 9pm UAE time. Participants must register online and purchase a Dh35 bottle of water to enter.
Ten ways to win cash prizes in the UAE
- Mahzooz draw (Previously Emirates Loto) — Dh10 million
- Emirates Draw — Dh140 million
- Big Ticket Abu Dhabi Duty Free draw — Dh15 million
- Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire draw — $1 million (Dh3.67 million)
- ADIB Ghina Savings draw — Dh3 million grand prize plus monthly prizes
- ADCB Millionaire Savings accounts — Dh1 million grand prize plus monthly prizes
- Kunooz Savings Account — grand prizes of Dh1 million and a Tesla
- FAB Al Awwal Savings Certificate — Dh1 million yearly grand prize and Dh200,000 every quarter, plus monthly prizes
- Mashreq Millionaire — Dh1 million grand prize plus monthly prizes
- National Bonds Reward Programme — two Dh1 million grand prizes every quarter plus monthly prizes