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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.

Big-Ticket-winners

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.

Journalist for 25 years with leading publications in India and UAE such as The National, Mumbai Mirror, DNA, Indian Express and former Sports Editor of eIndia.com. Now managing editor of Headline.ae, part of MEMc (https://www.memc.co)

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Carlos Díez de la Lastra, CEO of Les Roches, is among 150 most influential professionals in tourism in Spain

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Sergestur (Servicios de Gestión Turística/ Tourism Management Services), the tourism consulting firm, has published the fifth edition of its list of the 150 most influential figures in the sector in Spain during Fitur 2024. Once again, Carlos Díez de la Lastra, Global CEO of Les Roches, one of the top four specialized schools in hospitality and luxury tourism education worldwide, is featured for the fifth consecutive year.

The CEO of Les Roches, who has positioned the institution as one of the top four schools for hotel management and training in the world, continues to expand the brand into new markets such as Abu Dhabi, China, and India. Recently, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has established a hospitality education academy to be managed and guided under the stewardship of Les Roches in Abu Dhabi, which will open in September 2024.

Since joining Les Roches in 2014 as General Manager of Les Roches Marbella, Carlos Díez de la Lastra Buigues (Madrid, 1970) has pursued a clear and ambitious goal: to position Les Roches at the forefront of excellence and innovation in the sector and establish it as a leading academic center internationally.

On his tenth anniversary within Les Roches, Carlos Díez de la Lastra has just presented at Fitur the school’s new educational offerings for 2024. For the upcoming academic year, Les Roches’ prospective students will have a greater number of specialized educational programs in different areas, such as golf course management or cruises. This expansion aims to meet the new needs arising in an ever-changing sector.

The CEO of Les Roches shares the list with other influential personalities from different specialties within the sector such as Dabiz Muñoz, chef of Diverxo; Gabriel Escarrer, chairman & CEO of Meliá Hotels International; Miguel Sanz, general director of Turespaña; Patricia Gutiérrez, director of communication and strategic marketing of the Basque Culinary Center; Rosana González, general manager of the Hotel Colón; Carmen y Luis RIU Güell, RIU Hotels; or Manuel Molina, editor of Hosteltur, among others.

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Bollywood sensation Neha Kakkar to perform at Abu Dhabi T10 final

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The closing ceremony of the final of Abu Dhabi T10 2023 will be a star-studded affair with Bollywood singing sensation Neha Kakkar set to perform live at the Zayed Cricket Stadium on Saturday, Dec 9th, before the start of the final match. Neha Kakkar, who is currently regarded as one of the most popular Bollywood artists, will set the stage on fire with a vibrant concert starting from 1800 hrs GST. The hottest ticket in town for the Abu Dhabi T10 Final will be available for just AED 10, and fans can also witness the Closing Ceremony at no additional cost! Tickets are available at https://events.q-tickets.com/uae/eventdetails/4013826602/abu-dhabi-t10-season-7.

Kakkar made a name for herself during the second season of Indian Idol in 2005, and since then, has been associated with some of the top music labels in India. She enjoys a cult following among the Indian masses with her tracks being played out across parties, weddings, and clubs, and is one of the most followed female Indian artists on Spotify. In 2021, Kakkar became the first Indian singer to win a YouTube Diamond award. Currently, her official YouTube page has 14.4 million followers, and she recently also performed live in front of packed crowds during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 match between India and Pakistan in Ahmedabad.

Apart from the Indian singer, Iranian-German model, actress, dancer, and singer Elnaaz Norouzi will also dazzle the jam-packed crowd with a sensational dance performance. Norouzi entered the Indian film industry with the Netflix cult classic Sacred Games and since then has worked across several Indian movies and TV shows, with her latest appearance being in the second season of Made in Heaven. She also made her Hollywood debut alongside Gerard Butler in the 2023 hit Kandahar.

A stunning fashion show featuring gorgeous costume designs by Libaas will also lighten up the atmosphere at the stadium before the start of the match.

Commenting on the closing ceremony of Abu Dhabi T10 2023, Shaji Ul Mulk, Chairman, T10 Sports Management, said, “The Final day of the Abu Dhabi T10 2023 will be an affair like no other. The T10 format was always meant to entertain fans and we want everyone to have a great time. We have brought on renowned international artists and designers to engage all fans with spectacular performances and set the tone for some cracking cricketing action that they will get to witness on Saturday. The tournament has already raised the bar high this year and the grand finale will only set new limits for the competition.”

Abu Dhabi T10 2023 will be broadcast on CricLife3 available on Etisalat, Elife IPTV, Switch TV, and Starzplay in UAE-MENA. It will also be aired in Pakistan on channel A Sports and live streamed on TapMad. Indian fans can watch the season on Viacom Sports 18 2 (Hindi) and on Jio Cinema app. The tournament this season, will also air on Supreme TV in Sri Lanka, on BT Sport in the United Kingdom, on ESPN in the Caribbean, on Willow TV in North America, on T Sports in Bangladesh, and Fox Sports in Australia.

Cricket fans in UAE can buy the Abu Dhabi Season 7 Final for just AED 10 via: https://events.q-tickets.com/uae/eventdetails/4013826602/abu-dhabi-t10-season-7.

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Japanese culture gets full display in Dubai

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The Japan Culture Con (JCC) convention, dedicated to showcasing the richness of culture from the Land of the Rising Sun, drew to a close with resounding response at the Burj Park, Dubai.

The JCC brought together enthusiasts, artists, and experts over a period of three days to create a vibrant tapestry of traditional and contemporary expressions.

According to the organisers, JCC exceeded their expectations with record-breaking attendance numbers. Over 13,000 enthusiasts gathered to immerse themselves in the multifaceted beauty of Japan’s cultural heritage. The diverse audience contributed to the event’s dynamic atmosphere, fostering cultural exchange and understanding.

A range of diverse and dynamic programming played an important part in the event’s success. Attendees experienced a kaleidoscope of traditional arts, modern performances, interactive workshops, and immersive exhibits that showcased the evolution of Japanese culture. The fusion of tradition and innovation was a key theme, resonating with participants of all ages and backgrounds.

The convention featured a stellar lineup of cultural icons and rising stars, including renowned artists, performers, and experts in various fields. Their contributions brought authenticity and depth to the event, enriching the experience for attendees and highlighting the global appeal of Japanese culture.

The Culture Con successfully leveraged various platforms to engage a global audience. Social media channels buzzed with excitement, with attendees sharing their favorite moments and connecting with like-minded individuals. The virtual components of the event allowed those unable to attend in person to participate, expanding the reach of the convention.

The success was further amplified through strategic collaborations and partnerships. Japanese businesses, cultural organisations, and sponsors played a crucial role in supporting and enhancing the event, contributing to its overall success. Journalists and influencers highlighted the unique experiences, performances, and cultural insights presented at Japan Culture Con, further establishing it as a premier event in the cultural calendar.

The organisers – Keisaku Nishida (CEO) and Beenish Muneer (Managing Director) of Westfield Event Management – said in a statement: “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all attendees, supporters, sponsors, and partners who contributed to the success of Japan Culture Con. Their enthusiasm and commitment to celebrating Japanese culture made the event a truly memorable and enriching experience.” There are plans already to build on the success, they said.

This family was part of the roughly 13,000 attendees at the Japan Culture Con

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