As the curtain falls on 2021, there is a handful of UAE residents who will never forget the year that was thanks to their new status as millionaires.
As most people throughout the year spent their Saturday evenings getting ready for the working week, more than 20 residents received an email alert from Mahzooz that would change their lives forever.
Their Dh35 purchase gave entry to a weekly raffle that brought winners large sums of cash – including a Dh50million ($13.6m) jackpot.
To date, Mahzooz has given away more than Dh140m in prize money to more than 136,000 winners from 177 nationalities.
Since their win, most have bought houses, paid off debts and set up savings funds for loved ones.
The National caught up with some of the 2021 millionaires to find out how life has changed since their win.
‘I paid off all my debts’
Name: Baranidaran Cannappane
Prize money: Dh1m
A Sharjah resident since 2011, father-of-two Baranidaran Cannappane said he spent most nights worrying about his debts before scooping half of the Dh2m grand prize on Mahzooz in August.
Mr Cannappane, who earns less than Dh9,000 a month as a computer engineer and had more than Dh200,000 in loans, said life has changed for the better in the past four months, although the changes were modest.
“I still live in the same house and I’m working in the same job, but August 7, 2021, will be a day I never forget,” he said.
“I have been able to clear all my debts in the UAE and India, and this has given me so much peace.
“I had so much pressure on my shoulders, now I feel light, it’s a good feeling.
“I choose to stay in my same job because it’s my profession and I didn’t want to just give it up.”
After a decade in the UAE, Mr Cannappane, who is from India, said he will be flying his mother and father to the Emirates for their first visit. He has also set up a savings fund for his two young children.
“Another thing I did, which I could never have done before, was took an unplanned trip to India for 40 days,” he said.
“Before the win I would have to plan a holiday one year in advance and budget hard for it.
“It felt great to book a last minute flight and go away without worrying about spending money.
“Aside from monetary riches, the win has allowed me to enjoy life more.”
‘I finally had my dream wedding’
Name: Antonio Yat
Prize money: Dh1m
Summer 2021 is one Antonio Yat will never forget. The 33-year-old Filipino, who lives in Dubai, could not believe his luck when he matched five out of six numbers in the Mahzooz draw, winning Dh1m.
“I still cannot believe this happened to me,” he said.
“I used to play the draw regularly, almost every week, and I always watched the live draw in the hopes I would win. Then I did.
“The life it has afforded me now is so sweet.”
Before the win, Mr Yat had big plans to save for a wedding in 2022, but the cash windfall in June this year meant he could speed up the process and he married his long-term girlfriend last month.
And now the couple are planning to have a baby.
“I always wanted a family, but money was always the issue,” he said.
“My wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, longed to have a baby and so did I, but we were never financially ready for it.
“Our plan was to keep working for a few years, get married then start a family, but Mahzooz meant I could do it so much sooner.”
Although Mr Yat kept his job as a business development manager for a gym after the win, he said life has changed for the better.
He has since bought a flat in the Philippines that his family are managing, and he said that will help as an investment for his family's future, too.
“Look, I still consider myself a normal guy and I don’t like to flaunt things, so what I have done with the money is quite sensible,” he said.
“Some friends and family back home lost their jobs due to Covid, so I helped them out, too.”
‘I’m waiting for win number two’
Name: Wei Wei
Prize money: Dh2m
When: December, 2020
While Chinese resident Wei Wei is not officially a 2021 millionaire, she scooped millions during the last Mahzooz draw of 2020, so she started the year with a lot more money in the bank.
After buying countless tickets for the draw and using the same numbers each time, her luck finally came through and she won Dh2m.
But like many of the new millionaires, she said she has stayed humble and life has not changed too much.
“We live in the same house but now I can revamp the place as much as I want,” she said.
“Before the win, if the sofa was tatty or our TV needed updating, we would always have to save and hold off on buying anything brand new.
“When we won, one of the first things we did was bought a new sofa. That’s honestly the most extravagant buy we have made so far, which is funny to some people.”
Mother to a six-year-old boy, she said the money means she can plan a better future for her son and pay for his university education when that time comes.
“Children are expensive, so now we feel a relief that we have money to really support him,” she said.
“We own a small business in Dubai and we love it here so we plan on staying for years to come.
“As far as buying a new car or house, we haven’t even thought about that yet because I don’t think you have to squander money just because you have it.”
Although the 35-year-old Dubai resident has already won D2m, she said she still buys a ticket for the draw every week in the hopes of winning again.
“Who knows, maybe next time we speak I would have won for a second time and I will be front page news,” she said.