Dubai: Filipina expat Nina Elmina Sanchez, 32, has just won Dh1 million but it was like any other ordinary day for her when she talked to Gulf News after becoming millionaire.
Sanchez, who works as a guest service associate for a five-star hotel in Dubai, won the Dh1 million grand prize in Al Ansari Exchange Rewards draw streamed live on January 12.
After confirming that she really won, she punctually reported to work — her shift is from 3pm to 12 midnight — and devotedly attended to her duties. Colleagues, family and friends congratulated her; she was excited but there was no fuss. “Winning Dh1m prize still has to sink in,” said Sanchez, who became the third Filipino expat and only the second female to win the grand prize.
‘Did I exchange a fake dollar?’
“Actually, I thought it (winning Dh1m) was just a prank and I was not even able to answer the first call from Al Ansari at around 1pm on Tuesday,” Sanchez told Gulf News, adding: “I was at the company accommodation and a colleague (hotel concierge) told me that a staff from Al Ansari called and was looking for me. I had no idea why — the first thing that came into my mind was: ‘Did I exchange a fake dollar?’
“Al Ansari staff called me back and the guy on the other end slowly and gently explained to me that I just won a whopping Dh1m. I was totally overwhelmed and the good news did not sink in immediately. I was also not aware that the draw was on that day and I did not check it on social media,” she added.
Sanchez said she has no concrete plans yet on what to do with the big prize but she would definitely secure a good future for her 12-year old son, who is in the care of her parents in the Philippines.
“The prize is a big blessing to start the new year,” said Sanchez, who arrived to work in Dubai in November 2019. She added: “Last year was really tough — like many others in the hotel industry that was badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, I was also temporarily out of work for some months. But thankfully, our hotel still paid our salary and I was able to remit money back home.”
Sanchez continued. “I have been in Dubai for only over a year and the last thing I expected was to be become a millionaire. What a great start for 2021! Thank you Al Ansari Exchange for giving me this opportunity and changing my life. She also thanked her kababayans (compatriots) who shared her joy and congratulated her on social media.
Taking things in stride
Sanchez said she will take things in stride. “Yes, I’m now a millionaire but I want to make plans for my for future and family wisely and take things one day at a time so I will not be too overwhelmed. I have already informed my family of the big win but tomorrow I will still go to work as usual,” she said.
Meanwhile, three more big winners won in the Al Ansari Rewards. Akhil Mohan Kumar from India won a brand new Lexus car while Indian compatriots Nirmal Kumar Bishan and Jitendra Pandey each won 1/4 kilo of gold in the ‘Refer-a-Friend’ draw.
Mohammad Bitar, deputy CEO of Al Ansari Exchange, said: “As a way to thank our loyal customers, we have gone ahead with our 7th Millionaire promotion. Congratulations to our new millionaire and to all the winners. We were truly overwhelmed this year by the number of participants.”
In 2019, Abdullah Al Arafat Mohammed Mohsin from Sonagazi City in the Feni District of Chittagong, Bangladesh walked away with Dh1m while Al Dizon Banzil and Gina Realuyo Soriano registered back-to-back wins for Filipinos in 2017 and 2018 respectively.