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Want to be a millionaire in the UAE? Punch the Big Ticket to a new life

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Abu Dhabi’s Big Ticket lottery draw is the oldest, tried and still trusted, and hence ruling roost despite emerging competition, the hosts of the draw have said at an event in Dubai.

Still going with their first names, Richard and Bouchra, introduced four winners from different backgrounds and for different amounts in front of some media representatives at One Life Cafe on Wednesday in an effort to reach out to the masses.

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Richard, left, and Bouchra host Abu Dhabi’s Big Ticket draw on the third of each month. Photos Red Havas ME

“We are the oldest one; we are the only one that never changed our format; we are transparent and we declare our prizes at the start of it and irrespective of how many tickets are sold we give away the prize – guaranteed – in full view of everyone; and there is no rollover,” says Richard. “We get a winner regardless of anything from the name picked out of the drum (of tickets) in front of you, all secured and audited for.”

Originally conducted by the Abu Dhabi Airport Company, the Big Ticket moved under the aegis of Abu Dhabi Duty Free, a similar branding as their counterparts in Dubai.

There is no denying the fact that the Big Ticket has had to evolve a bit going with competition with Mahzooz and Emirates Draw coming in with their own varying formats.

However, with varying amounts each month, Big Ticket has changed lives of thousands with many people clubbing together in the hope to punch the big ticket to fulfil their dreams. This year alone, Big Ticket awarded 60 cash prize winners, whose winnings equate to a total prize value of over AED110 million.

“We are indeed privileged to be life-changers for many and it is such a satisfying job,” says Bouchra. Both hosts had plenty of anecdotes to share of people’s reactions and disbelief. There have been instances when Big Ticket had to go out of the way and spread out messages in public for the winners to get in touch.

“In the rare occurrence that we don’t find the winner – it has happened for the lesser prizes only – we wait for six months before giving it to charity,” a marketing official explained without being named because he was not authorised to speak.

The experiences of the winners gathered separately vouched for the efforts of Big Ticket as they shared their initial feeling of numbness and reality sinking in late for couple of them.

There were inspiring stories of Leena Jalal, Jacob Roy, Shahid Mahmood, and Safwan Nizameddin, a passport holder of St Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean.

“They say that Big Ticket only favours only one or two nationalities, but I am testimony to the fact that it is for everyone. One should have the belief,” said Nizameddin, the oldest of the four but the latest grand prize winner.

Lives changed

Leena, an Indian expat currently residing in Abu Dhabi, shared that she bought the ticket only days prior to the draw with many of her colleagues and friends, and was the luckiest one whose name was chosen after months of trying. Leena seeks to make a difference, just like Big Ticket, and is currently in talks with local charities to donate a percentage of her winnings, while the remaining amount will go towards supporting her family back home.

Jacob, another Indian expat residing in Abu Dhabi since 1990, discussed his commitment to a group of 12 friends that have been pitching in to purchase Big Ticket raffles on a monthly basis, for five years. He won Dh300,000 representing a group of buyers. “I tell others, consider buying the ticket as a job. We are all here as expats to change our lives and BT can do that for us. I and few others also chip in with extra if we have to make up the necessary amount at times.”

Shahid Mahmood is a Dubai-based Pakistani employee working at a glass installation company. After five years of buying BT raffles every month, Shahid received the winning phone call that made his and his friend’s dreams come true with a Dh15m purse.

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Four Big Ticket winners and the event emcee Lekha Menon in Dubai. From left: Ms Menon, Leena Jalal, Shahid Mahmood, Jacob Roy and Safwan Nizameddin shared their experiences

A longtime resident of Abu Dhabi, Nizameddin has been purchasing tickets every month for the past two years. When the call came, Safwan says his sixth sense kicked in and he instinctually knew he had finally won. The executive manager of a company specializing in power generation is a family man at heart. He plans to use his winnings to purchase properties for his three children as an investment in their future and some for charity.

On a side note, regular buyers of Big Ticket have been curious to know the logic behind different prize amounts each month. Having started at one million dirhams, the highest on offer has been Dh25m although it 10-20 is the common range. Initially, Richard said “the idea behind it is to give it fresh a look, I guess”, but when prodded further, he conceded he wasn’t sure and never checked with his employers.

Nonetheless, the prizes given out on the third of each month remain substantial and undoubtedly have changed many lives.

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Dates revealed for Global Village Season 27

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Hurrrray.…the countdown begins.

Global Village has announced its opening date for its coming season. The popular family-friendly destination will reopen on October 25, although little other details are known yet including when exactly it will run until and what will be new. However, on the official website, it says Season 27 followed by the dates “October 2022 — April 2023” which follows the typical dates the attraction usually stays open for.

Last season’s Global Village had a record 7.8 million guests visit during the six months it was operational. This also includes an extended period, which saw the attraction stay open for an extra four weeks until May 7.

The destination marked its 26th season with 26 pavilions representing more than 80 cultures from around the world.

Among the countries and continents represented were: the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Afghanistan, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Japan, South Korea, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Yemen, Russia, the Americas, Africa and Europe.

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Food

UAE chips in for food parks in India to tackle insecurity

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Reuters – The UAE has pledged $2 billion to help develop a series of “food parks” in India to tackle food insecurity in South Asia and the Middle East, a joint statement said on Thursday.

Speaking in Jerusalem at a virtual summit with UAE, Israeli and Indian leaders, US President Joe Biden said the investment could “increase India’s food yields in the region three-fold in just five years”.

The parks would bring farmers, processors and retailers together using advanced climate technology to minimise waste, conserve water and maximise crop yields, focusing at first on crops including potatoes, rice and onions.

The four countries would also advance renewable energy projects in India, including wind and solar energy plants, they said.

The projects would be supported by the Israeli and US private sectors, Biden said at the summit on food security and clean energy amid fears of global food shortages caused by the war in Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine are the world’s third and fourth largest grain exporters, respectively, while Russia is also a key fuel and fertiliser exporter.

The war has disrupted their exports, pushed world food prices to record levels and triggered protests in developing countries already contending with elevated food prices due to COVID-related supply chain disruptions.

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Farmers work at a rice field in Madurai in the Indian southern state of Tamil Nadu. Sam Thomas / Shutterstock

Going bananas and potatoes

Economic fallout from the pandemic, climate change, food insecurity and volatile energy markets, Biden said, had been “made worse by Russia’s brutal and unprovoked attack” on Ukraine.

“All these issues require cooperation and coordination, and none of us can mount a comprehensive response on our own,” Biden said.

UN agencies warned this month that the war in Ukraine and climate change could push starvation and mass migration to unprecedented levels.

Apart from benefiting local farmers, the food parks would help reduce trade barriers and unify food safety standards, Indian foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said in New Delhi.

They would also provide India with an opportunity to benchmark its perishable food products for global export and allow Indian produce access to the strategic Gulf markets starting with UAE, Kwatra said.

He said Indian states Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh – both ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party – were exploring setting up these parks, which would initially cultivate bananas, potatoes, rice, onions and spices.

Gulf Arab states import as much as 80-90% of their food and while their oil wealth renders them less vulnerable to rising global food prices than poorer countries in the region, disruptions threaten their supply chains.

India, the world’s third-biggest oil importer and consumer, depends on Gulf state for meeting most of its oil needs.

Wealthy Gulf states have invested heavily in farmland overseas and have been investing domestically more in agritech, which is also a fast-growing sector in Israel.

Crop yields are relatively low in India, which despite being a major farm goods producer, lacks regular irrigation for around half its farmland. Venture capital firms are increasingly pouring money into local agritech start-ups.

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Food

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid orders urgent aid flight to Afghanistan after deadly earthquake

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Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, upon the request of the international humanitarian community and the World Health Organisation (WHO), has ordered the facilitation of emergency aid flights to transport life-saving humanitarian assistance to Kabul, following a 5.9 magnitude earthquake that hit eastern Afghanistan.
On Tuesday 28th of June 2022, a cargo flight departed from Dubai to Kabul, carrying 24.5 metric tons of essential medicines, medical items, and cholera kits supplied by the WHO from its warehouses in the International Humanitarian City (IHC) in Dubai. The facilitation and transport of aid come in response to the immediate humanitarian needs of the landlocked Southern Asian country following the devastating earthquake that claimed the lives of at least 1000 people, amid fears of a cholera outbreak besides the country’s already dire humanitarian situation.

Giuseppe Saba, CEO of IHC, said: “Reports indicate that this is the deadliest earthquake in two decades, further compounding the alarming humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. The IHC, under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is accelerating the rapid response of the international humanitarian community as it rallies to come to the aid of those impacted by the disaster. Many organizations that we host in IHC are working around the clock to mobilize resources, and we are coordinating with them to provide all the required support to transport relief from our warehouses into Afghanistan. Time is of the essence, and Dubai and the UAE’s leadership consider a swift response a humanitarian duty to save lives.”
Dr. Dapeng Luo, WHO Representative in Afghanistan said: “The trauma and emergency surgery kits that are arriving on this flight from WHO’s logistics hub in Dubai’s International Humanitarian City are absolutely critical to maintain our ongoing support to the people of Afghanistan as these supplies will cover the needs of at least 340,000 people.  We are grateful for the vital logistics assistance provided by the UAE in support of WHO’s global logistics hub in Dubai.”

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