Ahsanullah Mohammad Saifullah taking his half-kilo gold prize.
Gold winner Ahsanullah Mohammad Saifullah with his wife. Image Credit:

Dubai: When Pakistani girl Kainath Mohammad Baksh Soomra, 15, won a quarter kilo of gold during a Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) draw, she didn't think much of what to buy for herself.

It was worth around Dh36,000. But she had another thing in mind: half of the prize money went to her four-year-old cousin back home undergoing a heart operation.

The rest, she gave it to her father to put it into the family nest egg.

Kainath’s father, Mohammad Baksh Soomra, who works at Dubai Electricity Water Authority (Dewa), said the prize was very timely: he wanted to provide financial help to his nephew, but was unsure how to organise the money.

Kainath Mohammad Baksh Soomra
Kainath Mohammad Baksh Soomra, left, with her family Image Credit: Supplied

Besides the obvious financial gain due to the win, there was another side to the story. "My daughter learnt the value of sharing," said Kainath.

"She realised the importance of helping someone in need and that to me has been a big aspect of the entire win.”

Changed lives

Kainath is one of hundreds and thousands of people whose life changed with the Dubai gold raffles.

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Tawhid Abdullah, Chairman, Dubai Gold & Jewellery, Group (DGJG) and Laila Mohammed Suhail, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment at a press conference to announce the Dubai Gold & Jewellery, Group DSF promotions. Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/ Gulf News

According to DSF organisers, a whopping 233 kilos of gold (worth Dh35 million as per today’s rate) have been given away in raffle draws by various jewellery stores across the UAE, in the past five years alone.

The DSF has been a major part of Dubai shopping calendar for 23 years.

Customers are entitled for the daily raffle draws upon purchase of a minimum of Dh500 worth of gold and jewellery. All stores under the Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group, which has some 300 retail shops UAE, are giving away raffle couples for 32 kg of gold for DSF 2019.

Diamonds and TV sets are also given away as part of the draws.

Every day, hundreds of thousands of gold purchasers benefit from gold wins. Gulf News talks to some of them to understand how their gold win changed their lives:

Hope, opportunity

DSF is always a major draw among visitors and residents in the UAE, including Indian expat, Ahsanullah Mohammad Saifullah, 33.

It makes shopping so much more fun. A major attraction of the festival is the daily gold and car raffle. It gives people an opportunity to try their luck and win a massive prize money.

- Ahsanullah Mohammad Saifullah, Pakistani

"Every year I buy gold during DSF just so my name goes into the raffle draw," said Saifullah. "It makes shopping so much more fun. A major attraction of the festival is the daily gold and car raffle. It gives people an opportunity to try their luck and win a massive prize money."

"Every year I buy gold during DSF just so my name goes into the raffle draw."

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Ahsanullah Mohammad Saifullah taking his half kilo gold prize. Image Credit: Supplied

Last year, Saifullah bought a gold chain to gift his wife for their sixth wedding anniversary. Little did he realise this would make him a DSF gold winner.

“My wedding anniversary falls on December 26. If you remember January 1, 2018, VAT was introduced in the UAE and there was a mad rush at jewellery stores the previous week.

"Everybody was buying gold before the VAT introduction. So I decided to delay purchasing my wife’s anniversary gift. I went on January 2 last year and bought her a chain. That day I got a call from the organisers that I had won half a kilo. I was shocked, but very happy with the win.

Ahsanullah Mohammad Saifullah taking his half-kilo gold prize.
Gold winner Ahsanullah Mohammad Saifullah with his wife. Image Credit: Supplied

Saifullah said he sold the half a kilo gold at a jewellery store in Sharjah Gold Souq.

“I managed to get a good rate and after paying VAT charges, I received Dh70,000 in hand. This amounts to 1.26 million Indian rupees (12.6 lakhs) which is a very big amount for me,” said Saifullah who works as a project manager for a construction company in Dubai.

He used the money to top up a personal loan he had taken with a bank in the UAE.

This helped him settle the loan in full and as a result increased his monthly savings. “First I was free of any debt. Second previously saving Dh3,000 a month, I could increase this to Dh4,500 a month.”

'Divine intervention'

Judith Mathias, 40, Indian said it was nothing but the "Divine hand" that helped her win half a kilo gold last year.

I was constructing a house back home in Mangalore. I was short of Dh65,000 to complete the project. I was about to take a loan to settle this amount and I won!

- Judith Mathias, Indian

“I was constructing a house back home in Mangalore. I was short of Dh65,000 to complete the project. I was about to take a loan to settle this amount and I won! I did not know how much half a kilo would fetch.

"When I went to the jeweller to sell the gold I was pleasantly shocked to find it was the same amount that I needed. It was as if the universe heard my prayers!,” said Mathias who works as a nurse in Dubai.

Ronnie Elva Talandron, 34, Filipino also said he used his quarter-kilo gold win (around Dh36,000, around 500,000  pesos) towards a house he is building in Phillippines.

“I have invested my gold winnings in a two-storey house. My wife and I make modest earnings here in the UAE and this win was huge for us.”

“I have invested my gold winnings in a two-storey house. My wife and I make modest earnings here in the UAE and this win was huge for us.”

- Ronnie Elva Talandron, Filipino

Bangladeshi expat, Mohiuddin Siddiqui, 50, who works as a salesman in a clothes store in the Hayath Centre, Al Ain said he never imagined he would ever earn Dh70,000 in one shot, let alone win a gold raffle.

But he did and although this is a year old story, Siddiqui, said he still hold dear to that moment when he was asked to go up on stage and receive the gold bar.

“It was totally surreal and I still cannot believe it sometimes.”

Judith Mathias 1
Judith Mathias' son with the gold coin. Image Credit: Supplied

The half a kilo fetched him Dh70,000, close to 16 lakh Bangladeshi takas.

“As a salesman, I barely earn a little every month. This was huge money for me. I am using this money towards my house in Chittagong. There was no progress in the construction of my house as I did not have the funds for it. The winning money helped me re-start my housing project.”

Retail calendar

The shopping festival is an exciting period in Dubai.

That's when gold retailers gives away a kilo of gold to a lucky winner every day. 

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Tawhid Abdullah, Chairman, Dubai Gold & Jewellery, Group (DGJG) and Laila Mohammed Suhail, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment at a press conference to announce the Dubai Gold & Jewellery, Group DSF promotions. Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/ Gulf News Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Joyalukkas, chairman & MD, Joyalukkas group said: “DSF is a very important part of our retail calendar. Anyone who buys any jewellery or coin from any of our stores across UAE, gets a chance to win gold.”

Gold raffle frenzy

The gold raffle frenzy is a key feature of festival. But no two editions of the festivals are the same.

Shamlal Ahamed, managing director – International Operations, Malabar Gold & Diamonds said: “For more than two decades, the Dubai Shopping Festival has been providing rewarding shopping experiences to the residents as well as tourists.

"Every DSF is different from the year before, which requires us to plan and take into account what the consumers want and will excite them," Ahamed.

"Also, the DSF Mega Raffle draws which have always been one of the much awaited offerings of the festival forms the cornerstone of the festival’s winning strategy impacting the lives of the shoppers forever.

"The 32 kilo gold and 5 BMW cars of this DSF is a bonanza for the shoppers. We are witnessing that the daily gold raffle and the whole of the DSF experience is boosting our outlet footfall and sales."