Lucky lottery winners in the UAE came together to share their good fortune and reveal how hitting the jackpot transformed their lives.
Many people across the Emirates have become millionaires overnight through the Abu Dhabi Big Ticket draw, which has been making dreams come true since 1992.
While there is a temptation to splash the cash on flashy cars and luxury holidays, residents stressed the importance of using their new-found wealth to provide for their families.
After buying a Dh500 ticket, some have won the grand prize of Dh20 million, Dh15 million, Dh12 million or Dh1 million.
Recent winners of the draw attended a gala dinner in Dubai on Tuesday to celebrate their success.
The National spoke to some of them about how they plan to spend their winnings.
Dh12 million winner won’t give up the day job just yet
Shivamurthy Gali Krishnappa, who lives in Sharjah, is still working as a mechanical engineer for a stainless steel production company despite winning the grand prize.
“I don’t want to rush into anything,” said Mr Krishnappa, 42, from India, who bought the ticket on his own.
“I want to continue life as it was for now and plan properly. The most important thing is to save for my children’s education.”
Mr Krishnappa has a four-year-old son who wants to be an engineer like his father and a 10-year-old daughter who dreams of becoming a doctor.
He said both went on a toy-shopping spree after the draw, but now only necessary spending would be undertaken to teach the children how to manage money responsibly.
“We are still living in the same house in Sharjah. We’re still discussing what the next step would be, but there are plans to build a house in my home country,” he said.
Garage owner to use Dh10 million to strengthen family ties
Shahed Ahmed Moulvifaiz, a Bangladeshi car garage owner in Al Ain, won his fortune less than a week ago and is waiting for the cash to be transferred to him.
Like Mr Krishnappa, he bought the ticket alone.
But he has already made plans to improve life for himself and his family.
Mr Moulvifaiz, 55, moved to the UAE nearly 40 years ago, but is desperate to bring his wife and two of his children, aged 15 and 26, to the Emirates to live with him. A third, a son aged 25, lives here and helps him run the family business.
“If we have the money and we can afford it now, there’s no reason why we all should be living apart,” he said.
“I want to secure mine and my wife’s retirement years and my children’s future, including my youngest son’s education.”
Mr Moulvifaiz also wants to grow his business and build a house in his home country. He said the one he has now has a weak structure and is not one he could pass on to his children.
He said he had been buying the Abu Dhabi Big Ticket for nearly two decades, but never thought he would win.
Dh100,000 will ease financial pressures
Jayaprakash Mariyan Philip, an Indian expat in Abu Dhabi, scooped Dh1 million with nine other people.
The prize was split among them equally, leaving Mr Philip, 50, with Dh100,000.
He said the money was not “life-changing” for him, but helped him reduce his financial burdens.
“I have bank loans of Dh325,000, so I’ve paid some of that,” said Mr Philip, who has worked for an oil and gas company since 2010.
His wife and four-year-old daughter live in the capital with him.
He said he would keep buying lottery tickets in the hope he would strike it lucky again.
Dh90,000 will support daughter’s education
When Zaheen Kausar’s husband bought a ticket in her name, she did not think it would bring luck to her family.
But less than a week ago, she was announced as the winner. Now, she is thinking of buying a luxury car for herself.
Ms Kausar, 45, travelled to Abu Dhabi from Pakistan to visit her husband, who earns Dh12,000 per month at a transport company.
“We already own a house in Pakistan, so we want to save for my daughter’s university tuition,” she said.
“If there is anything spare left, I might purchase a car.”
The man making the life-changing call
Richard Isaac is the man with the honour of picking the winning raffle ticket out of the box and making the life-changing call to the winner.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, more than 5,000 people would gather during a live event in Abu Dhabi to watch the draw take place.
Since 2020, the draw is streamed live on social media channels, bringing in even larger audiences.
Mr Isaac said many lives change for the better if the winner belongs to a syndicate, a common practice in which several people pool their cash to buy a ticket.
“There was one person who won Dh100,000, but he was sharing the ticket with 20 colleagues,” he said.
“It wasn’t life-changing money, but it’s going to do some good for lots of people, and everyone needs some good these days.”