How life has changed for UAE's raffle millionaires

How life has changed for UAE's raffle millionaires
How life has changed for UAE's raffle millionaires

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Big Ticket Abu Dhabi and Duty Free have changed the fortunes of hundreds of expats.

For millions of residents and tourists, the monthly lottery draws held in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are a magic wand to transform their lives forever. And the general perception is that winners - all expats, overnight millionaires - will then enjoy a life of luxury. However, truth is stranger than fiction, something that Al Khaleej Today found out after speaking to many millionaires, who maintain their old lifestyle and jobs, be it as accountants or labourers. They said there's more to life than money,  a lesson they learnt after winning.

The most happening and happiest winners in recent memory were the group of 25 workers who had hit the Big Ticket Abu Dhabi's Dh15 million raffle in November last year. Staying grounded, the workers chose to continue in the same job and company, and the UAE is still their dream place to live and work.

"Life has certainly changed. All of us are very happy. We have settled our debts. Some have made plans to finally start work on their dream homes in India. Some can plan their marriages now," Sreenu Sreedharan Nair said on behalf of friends.

"Few months or years from now, we don't see ourselves anywhere else but working here. The jackpot has secured our lives but we continue in same lifestyle and will work hard here in the UAE."

Prashanth Pandarathil, who won Dh10 million in February last year at the Big Ticket, is his usual self.

"There are no changes in my life. Everything is the same. I am working at the same place."

He said to have made some judicious decision-making with this jackpot.

"I have invested in stocks. I have put it to good use," he said, adding that he continues to try his luck buying lotteries.

Another Indian expat, Praveen Aranha, who pocketed $1 million at the Dubai Duty Free raffle draw, said money is helping fund daughter's overseas studies.

"She is studying in the US. It's expensive with nearly over $50,000 a year. We have kept a portion of the prize money for that and rest as fixed deposit. We have our retirement plans as I am not that young. I am working with the same company. And we continue to have a normal lifestyle."

'Financial planning is important'

There were few winners whose fortunes changed with the unexpected windfall, which also taught them new lessons. A resident was reeling under debts when he won the Dubai Duty Free $1 million.

"It rescued me. It helped pay off my debts. I don't want to say anything more," said the resident who wished to remain anonymous but is doing well as a businessman post the lottery win.

An Arab expat won the Dh1million Big Ticket when he had lost his job. However, he stressed such jackpot will never bring inner happiness like hard-earned money.

"The lottery was huge boost then. But people think you win a lottery and life is settled. It's far from truth. Money doesn't change anything. Initially I felt very lucky but later realised I didn't know what to do with the money. You need a financial planner who doesn't cheat you. Also you need to have constant cash flow in the form of a regular income. I have found a new job. But not having financial education really hurts."

Hunt for jackpot continues

Apart from the jackpot, raffle draws have lots of other prizes ranging from Dh100,000 to Dh10,000. And one prize raises expectations to bag the biggest catch.

Sathya Jothi and her family are among the aspirants, who believe she will one day hit the bounty. It was in December 2017 that she won Dh100,000 through a ticket taken in name of her three-year-old daughter Apsara Tamilini. "We have shared the amount with 10 people. Nothing much has changed in our lives. We are just happy to see 10 others smile. The group is purchasing tickets since 2014. We still try for the jackpot and buy tickets," she said.

Meanwhile, a few millionaires weren't reachable over the phone.

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