Emirates Loto winner uses Dh100,000 prize to help family caught up in Beirut blast

Bassem Itani was eager to help after the devastating explosion in the Lebanese capital

Bassem Itani, Emirates Loto winner. Courtesy EWINGS
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When Bassem Itani won more than Dh100,000 in the Emirates Loto in July he had grands plans for how to spend his fortune.

But when a huge explosion tore through Beirut last month, the father-of-two knew he had an opportunity to bring hope out of tragedy.

He swiftly turned his attention to family members caught up in the devastating blast which left scores of people dead and thousands more injured.

“I didn’t think twice about helping my family in Lebanon when disaster struck last month,” said the 55-year-old architect.

“The devastation that was caused is still so upsetting to see; like many in this region who have sent relief home, I hope my support goes far in helping my family to rebuild their lives.”

Mr Itani, who holds Canadian citizenship, has been living in the UAE for 17 years.

As well as allocating some of his winnings to support relief efforts in Lebanon, he will use part of his Dh111,111 cash prize to pay for his children's school and college fees.

“Maybe if I’d have won Emirates Loto at a time when there wasn’t a pandemic causing such disruption, I could have taken a world tour.

“I guess my own savings and plans can wait. Family will always come first.”

Nonetheless, Mr Itani said he plans to continue playing with Emirates Loto and hopefully make win more draws in the future.

“Emirates Loto has been really good to me,” he said. “I plan to keep playing when the draws return and if I ever win again I will continue to be good to the world in the same way the world has been good to me.”

Emirates Loto is a weekly digital draw that was launched in April, but has been suspended since July on order for a system upgrade to be completed. It is expected to relaunch soon.

The Emirates Loto is a fatwa-approved, collectable scheme with the option to enter a weekly live draw.

People can buy the collectable cards and then decide whether they wish to enter the draw free of charge. Customers can also choose not to receive the card and donate a portion of the purchase price to charity.